Tethering: Explained

Whether you’re in a desolate area, travelling for business, or simply just cannot find a WiFi network around you, there is always a signal right in your pocket. If your cellular phone is modern enough to support tethering (Roughly newer than 5 years old) then chances are you have the opportunity to use your cellphone as a connection tool for your other devices.

Simply put, tethering allows you to connect a device (say, your laptop) to your smart phone in order to use the phone’s data to access the internet. This can be very valuable in areas where network or WiFi connectivity is unavailable but, cell service is.

There are several ways of setting this up depending on your phone. I have included some links at the end of this article to walk you through the setup depending on your device. However, generally there are three ways to connect your computer or laptop to your smart phone:

  • over a mobile “hotspot” which seems to be the most popular method
  • over a Bluetooth connection,
  • or using a direct cable link such as a USB cable.

These different methods all essentially perform the same task. The only difference being that you may only be able to access one of the methods if the others are not available to you (i.e. if your laptop does not support Bluetooth or you do not have a USB cable).

Once connected or “tethered” to your phone, you may not see much difference in the way you access the Internet on your device.

  1. You simply connect your device to the “hotspot” or network the same way you would normally, this time you will notice the new network in the list of available networks.
  2. Connect to the network.
  3. Enter the password, and off you go.

You may notice a slide in performance and speed which is normal as even 3G or 4G speeds may not come close to the speed you will achieve in a normal Ethernet network.

Here is some available documentation to help you get started tethering your mobile device:
Android:
http://www.wikihow.com/Tether-With-Android

iOS (iPhone):
http://www.wikihow.com/Activate-Internet-Tethering-on-the-iPhone

Windows Phone:
http://www.pcadvisor.co.uk/how-to/windows/3441166/how-use-windows-phone-as-wi-fi-hotspot/

*disclaimer*
Please be aware that tethering can be very expensive if your mobile carrier charges you for data usage. Simply browsing the Internet or streaming videos can be costly, especially if you pay per MB or unlimited data is not available to you. Please consult your carrier contract before tethering to understand the charges for data usage.