[HOWTO] Create a WiFi Hotspot
A reader asks, “How do I set up my cell phone as a hotspot to connect my pc to? We do not have wired internet, but have mobile data on our phone.” Here's the scoop on using your smartphone as a wifi hotspot to provide Internet access to a laptop or other device...
Let's Make a Hotspot!
This reader did not specify what type of phone he or she has. I’m going to assume it’s running Android, by far the most popular smartphone operating system in terms of number of phone makes and models that use it. (It might seem like everyone has an iPhone, but Android actually has 85% market share.) The ability to use a phone as a WiFi hotspot is built into Android.
But before getting into the step-by-step, I want to caution every reader. Most phone data plans have a cap of several gigabytes per month. If you exceed that number, you may be billed an exorbitant amount for each additional gigabyte or fraction thereof.
On so-called “unlimited” plans, you may face drastic throttling of bandwidth speeds once you exceed a certain usage. The fun part is, carriers may not declare a specific cap, but just say they reserve the right to restrict “excessive” users. I've used the hotspot feature to get my laptop online for brief periods in an airport or hotel room, but never as a substitute for a high-speed Internet connection at home.
Carriers may have separate and more draconian limits on data consumption via hotspots. The assumption behind such restrictions is that multiple people will use the hotspot simultaneously, consuming a lot of bandwidth and degrading service to other users of the same cellular tower.
This reader asked about connecting one PC, not sharing the mobile hotspot with other devices. Nonetheless, any restrictions on hotspot usage will be in force. You might want to check with your mobile provider to see if your phone is capable of acting as a hotspot, and if there are any data usage concerns.
Creating a Wifi Hotspot on Android
With all that said, here are the steps to enable the hotspot feature of a smartphone running a recent version of the Android operating system.
- Plug the phone into its charger and the charger into an electrical outlet. Hotspot mode consumes a lot of power!
- Open the phone’s Settings app, identifiable by the gear icon.
- In the "Wireless & Networks" section, touch the More item, then touch "Tethering & Portable Hotspot".
- Touch the box next to the “Portable Wi-Fi Hotspot” or “Mobile Hotspot” item to move the slider control to the right, “on” position. This enables hotspot mode. (If that doesn't work, the hotspot feature may not be available. Check with your carrier for details of your plan.)
- Touch “Set Up Wi-Fi Hotspot” to change the hotspot’s name (SSID) and password; the latter must be at least 8 characters long and cannot contain spaces. I do recommend that you change the default password, because lists of many phone models’ default passwords are readily available to hackers. Leave the Security setting at “WPA2 PSK.”
- Touch “Save” or “OK” to set your changes.
On one of my older Android phones, after turning on the Mobile Hotspot option, there is no “Set Up Wi-Fi Hotspot" option. I see a screen that tells me the hotspot SSID and password, but there doesn't seem to be a way to change either.
Now go to the computer that you want to connect to the hotspot. On Windows, click on the Network icon in the system tray and choose the hotspot’s name. On a Mac, click Network in the System Preferences window, and select the hotspot. Enter the wifi password (the one you just created on your phone) when prompted.
It's a good idea to turn off the mobile hotspot when you no longer need it. See my notes above concerning data charges. To turn off the hotspot, return to step 4 and touch the “Portable Wi-Fi Hotspot” or “Mobile Hotspot” item to move the slider control to left, “off” position.
The Google Play store contains lots of free apps that offer one-touch on/off switching of hotspot mode, so you don’t have to wade through all the menus above to get to step 4. Just go to the store and enter “hotspot app” in the search box. Some apps include ads and in-app purchases to remove ads.
Have you used your phone as a hotspot? Your thoughts on this topic are welcome. Post your comment or question below...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 19 Jul 2017
|For Fun: Buy Bob a Snickers.|
HOWTO: Convert Your VHS Tapes to DVD
The Top Twenty
Geekly Update - 20 Jul 2017
Post your Comments, Questions or Suggestions
Free Tech Support -- Ask Bob Rankin
Subscribe to AskBobRankin Updates: Free Newsletter
Copyright © 2005
- Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved
Article information: AskBobRankin -- [HOWTO] Create a WiFi Hotspot (Posted: 19 Jul 2017)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved