Have you ever been in a situation where you needed to use a tablet or laptop but were only able to connect to the Internet through the cellular service on your smartphone? Or, maybe you were in an airport or coffee shop and felt hesitant to use free Wi-Fi for security reasons?

You may, in fact, have the ability to use your smartphone to supply Internet access to other electronic devices via Wi-Fi, Bluetooth or USB cable. Here’s what you need to know about “Tethering,” which is the use of one electronic device to supply Internet connectivity to another device.

Mobile Device Tethering

There are many different references for the act of tethering, to include: Mobile Hotspot, Personal Hotspot, Portable Wi-Fi Hotspot or Internet Sharing. The name is specific to the device you own, and the ability to tether also varies amongst the cellular providers. You want to be sure that you understand the pros and cons of tethering upfront.

Here are a few questions we recommend you ask your cellular provider:

  • Does my device allow tethering?

  • Does my plan allow tethering?

    • Is tethering usage part of your monthly data allowances, or is it an additional charge? If it’s additional, are the charges flat rate or per use?
  • Do I need to install anything on my device in order to tether?

  • How are my devices protected from security threats when tethering?

    • Can I assign a PIN or password to my connection?
  • How many devices can I tether at the same time?

  • Am I able to turn off tethering capabilities when it’s not needed?

If you choose to tether, we also recommend that you elect to receive data usage alerts from your provider so you can monitor monthly data usage and avoid any unexpected charges. To learn more about tethering through your cellular provider, call their customer service or visit their website.