[HOWTO] Make a WiFi Hotspot With Your Phone
A reader asks, 'How can I use my smartphone as a hotspot to connect my laptop to the Internet? 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. For starters, 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 both Android and the iOS operating systems, so we'll go over both here.
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. Or you may just find that you're out of data, before the end of your plan month.
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 Phones
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.
Creating a Wifi Hotspot on iPhones
- Open Settings, then select Mobile Data.
- Tap Personal Hotspot, to toggle Personal Hotspot to the ON (green) setting.
- If Wi-Fi or Bluetooth are turned off, iOS will prompt you to turn them back on. You don't want a hotspot that's limited to a USB connection.
- Tap 'Wi-Fi Password' and enter a password. (Pick something other than your Apple or home Wi-Fi password.)
Connecting Other Devices
Now go to the computer or other device that needs 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.
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 31 Jul 2018
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- [HOWTO] Make a WiFi Hotspot With Your Phone (Posted: 31 Jul 2018)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved