While it may seem as if Wi-Fi is available everywhere, sooner or later you may find that you need Wi-Fi but can’t find a connection. When you want to access the Internet on your computer or tablet, you may be stuck if you can’t find a Wi-Fi network to use.
But you may have a secret tool in your pocket you didn’t even realize you had: your cell phone. Many cell phones allow you to turn them into Wi-Fi hotspots so you can make your cellular connection to the Internet into a Wi-Fi connection for other devices.
Turning your phone into a Wi-Fi router is called creating a “hotspot”. Your cell phone will show as a Wi-Fi network that others can join.
Connecting a tablet or computer to that hotspot is called “tethering”.
When to Use Your Phone as a Hotspot
Using your phone as Wi-Fi hotspot can come in very handy when you want to share your phone’s Internet connection with your computer or tablet. Or when you have a friend who is on a network without a cell phone signal in your area and needs to connect to the Internet.
Or perhaps you can connect to Wi-Fi but aren’t sure the connection is secure. Using your phone’s network will let you avoid unsecured Wi-Fi networks.
Check out => How Free Public Wi-Fi May Cost You Dearly
Family car trips could be more fun if you use your phone’s hotspot to connect a’ tablet to the Internet. You may be able to avoid paying a fee for your tablet’s cellular plan by tethering your tablet.
Maybe your home or office has a power outage and you need to use the Internet. Connect your laptop or tablet to the Wi-Fi hotspot on your phone.
You’ll be able to tether your tablet or computer to your phone whenever your phone has a signal.
How to Turn Your Phone into a Wi-Fi Hotspot
To turn your iPhone into a hotspot, go to Settings => Personal Hotspot.
The next screen will allow you to set your password. Don’t skip this step (see below). The name of your network is the name you’ve given to your phone.
Slide the switch on and follow the instructions on the screen.
You can connect a device to your iPhone’s hotspot network using Wi-Fi, Bluetooth or a USB cable.
You can use your Android phone as a hotspot if it is running Android 2.2 (“Froyo”) or later and is a phone that allows tethering.
To turn your Android phone into a hotspot, go to Settings => Mobile Hotspot & Tethering. Check the box next to Portable Wi-Fi Hotspot. Tap on Portable Wi-Fi Hotspot settings and set your network name and password.
Connecting a Device to Your Wi-Fi Hotspot
You can connect a computer or tablet to your phone’s Wi-Fi hotspot just as you would connect to any other Wi-Fi network. Select the name of your phone’s network, enter the password and connect.
Some phones also allow you to tether using a USB cable and/or Bluetooth.
Things to Know about Using Your Phone as a Hotspot
Before you start using your phone as a hotspot, there are some things you need to know.
Tethering uses the data allotment of your cell phone plan — When your phone is a hotspot, it is sharing your monthly data allotment with other devices. Tether only when you need it, so you can avoid running out of data before the end of the month.
Require a password — You REALLY don’t want your phone to become an open Wi-Fi network, free to use for anyone, unless you want to use up your monthly data in a matter of minutes. Set a password and share it only with people you trust.
Keep your phone plugged in — Acting as a hotspot is a lot of work for your phone so the battery can run down quickly. If you’re going to tether for a while, be sure to plug in your phone to charge while the hotspot is turned on.
Turn the hotspot off when you’re done using it — You’ll save battery power and data if you turn the hotspot off as soon as you’re finished tethering.
You need a cell phone signal to use the hotspot — If you’re in a remote location without a cell phone signal then your phone’s hotspot won’t connect to the Internet.
Test your hotspot before you need to use it — Make sure your phone and carrier both allow hotspot connections.
You may be able to have multiple devices connected to your hotspot — But remember, the more devices that are connected to your hotspot, the quicker your data allotment will be used up.
Have you ever used your phone as a hotspot? Did you know your phone had this hidden feature? When would you use a hotspot?
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Voice of America Learning English
Are you an English learner? Do you like tech? Check out my weekly personal technology column at Voice of America Learning English. This week’s article: How to Turn Your Phone into a Wi-Fi Hotspot