Sometimes, a tethering or personal hotspot can be beneficial to connect devices, such as laptops and tablets, when WiFi is not available.
Usually, you only need a 3G, 4G or 5G smartphone with data transfer allowed, and it is easy to set up. Read everything you need to know, including what a Tethering is, what it can be used for, and how you can activate it.
Table of Contents
- What is Tethering?
- How to Configure a Tethering on Android and iPhone
- Why would I want to Tether?
- Do Mobile Operators Allow Tethering?
- What does this mean for my home broadband access?
- Advantages and Disadvantages of Tethering
What is Tethering?
Tethering a phone indicates connecting the phone to another device (such as a laptop or tablet) to use the phone’s Internet connection to connect.
This is usually done wirelessly, transmitting a signal from your smartphone as a WiFi network that other WiFi devices can detect and connect.
In general, if your device supports WiFi, you can also connect your phone wirelessly to it, by merely broadcasting a WiFi network from your phone. However, in some cases, USB or Bluetooth can also establish a tethering.
The smartphone is an ideal candidate for Tethering. Modern smartphones have excellent connectivity capabilities, with high speeds (especially in 5G) and potentially high data allocation (with many networks offering unlimited data plans), making them a competent replacement for conventional modems and support people to get more out of their contracts.
And you are not limited to your phone acting as a modem for one device; you can share your phone’s Internet with multiple devices at once.
As such, you can use your smartphone as a complete replacement for a mobile broadband device, and in one fell swoop, it could even act as a temporary replacement for home broadband access.
However, this would quickly drain data, battery and some networks. They define the number of devices you can connect to at once regularly, with a limit (if any) generally 11.
How to Configure a Tethering on Android and iPhone
The anchor on the iPhone and Android is functionally very similar, but there are some differences in their configuration.
On Android, go to “Settings”. From there, the wording will alternate depending on your phone and Android version but look for “Wireless & Networks” or “Connections” or something similar.
From there, you could see an option called “Mobile Network Sharing,” “Tethering,” “Portable Hotspot,” or something similar. If not, look for the “More” option and see if it appears.
When you find it, tap and a list of tethering options will appear WiFi, USB or Bluetooth. Select the one you want to use, which in most cases will be WiFi (although it may be called ‘Mobile Focal Point’), then select the network name and password and connect to that network from the device you want to get on the line.
Please note that a password is probably not required, but we strongly recommend using it for security reasons.
USB and Bluetooth Tethering are just as simple a USB Tethering works by touch after connecting two devices. In contrast, a Bluetooth tethering works like any other Bluetooth connection and requires you to enable Bluetooth on both devices, then follow some simple pairing instructions device.
To connect iPhone, you’ll also need to go to “Settings,” then look for “Personal Focus Point” or “Mobile Data,” then “Personal Focus Point,” or if they’re not visible, select “General,” then “Network,” and at the end of the “Personal Focus Point.”
Which you will need to do will depend on the version of iOS you are using.
After that, you have the same WiFi, Bluetooth, or USB options as Android, and the setup process is the same.
Why would I want to Tether?
Tethering is useful whenever you are somewhere where there is no WiFi to connect another device. Common examples of this are trains, cafes and hotels, where, for example, you might want to work on a laptop or stream something on a tablet. As long as your telephone has a mobile data connection, you can.
And Tethering can also come in handy when WiFi costs more, as is sometimes the case in hotels.
But in short, if you possess a device that does not initially support mobile data, then you might want to connect your phone to it at some point. Whether you are working on a laptop while travelling or streaming videos to a tablet or playing games on a laptop console.
Do Mobile Operators Allow Tethering?
Mobile operators usually have their tethering policies, and in the past, there were some restrictions on how much data could be used when tethering.
However, modern Tethering is standard, and most mobile operators (at least in the UK) allow modem connectivity. To be assured, it is best to contact your mobile operator, especially if you are purchasing a tariff with a large amount of data considering the Tethering.
When you log in, your data usage comes from your monthly data entry, which is part of your mobile plan. For example, if you have a mobile plan with unlimited minutes and SMS and 20GB of data, the data you spend while docking will be outside your 20GB.
Since many mobile operators already offer Unlimited data packets, the tethering option may become even more popular.
What does this mean for my home broadband access?
Many people currently use a Tethering as a “backup” option when they have a problem with their broadband networks at home.
For example, if you are working from home and suddenly you are out of your home WiFi, a mobile hotspot or pendant can save you a day.
It can also be advantageous when moving to your home, as a fixed broadband connection usually takes a while to resolve. This is particularly useful when you are outdoors, e.g. on the train or at the airport and want to use your reliable Internet instead of public Wi-Fi.
While 4G / 4G + data rates may already be comparable to fixed broadband speeds, connectivity is not a permanent alternative to your regular broadband connection.
If your location or situation makes it difficult to use a fixed broadband network, a mobile broadband network can fill that gap as long as you have decent 4G coverage.
Data rates on 2G / 3G / 4G mobile networks cannot be guaranteed, so if your lifestyle requires a certain standard of broadband, you should assess your capabilities against fixed networks’ availability and reliability and mobile phones in your area.
Another important aspect is data authorization, as it is not easy to get unlimited data with most tariffs. Although many mobile operators already offer unlimited data, it has not yet become mainstream.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Tethering
Tethering is a great way to supply your device an internet connection when WiFi is not available. If you own a smartphone with a decent amount of data, you can carry it to your laptop every day and do some real work or link it to a tablet and stream movies to a bigger screen.
It also doesn’t come at no extra cost, which is a huge plus, plus you should already have everything you need, and you can even connect multiple devices to your phone. If you are connected to a laptop via USB cable, you can charge your phone simultaneously.
Finally, public WiFi networks are often insecure, making logging in a much more secure option (as long as you use a password).
However, there are downsides. First of all, some prices don’t have a lot of data and the anchor can easily eat away at your add-on, especially since you’re probably using full versions of websites that use a lot more data than mobile versions.
Suppose you don’t have a phone and a 5G connection. In that case, it often won’t be as fast as a proper WiFi connection, especially in areas where you only get 3G and depending on where you are come on, you may not be able to do it abroad because it is involved in data roaming. It can also reduce your phone’s battery quite quickly, so keep that in mind if you plan to use it a lot.
In some cases, networks also have different fair use restrictions for docking and general use.
Some networks and plan types don’t allow Tethering, so it is worth checking if you want to connect before joining the network. Although at the time of writing, Lycamobile is the only network we know of that does not allow it on any aircraft.
This is usually an excellent option for emergency or only occasional use, but whenever possible, you should use a suitable WiFi connection. To save battery, you can invest in a dedicated broadband mobile device if you plan to connect frequently.