Phone Hotspots

Gone are the days of searching for a public Wi-Fi hotspot just to connect your laptop or tablet to the Internet. Today, most smartphones from Verizon Wireless have a built-in mobile hotspot function—allowing you to work on the go and browse the Internet anytime.

With a mobile hotspot, you can create an Internet connection for up to five mobile devices on a 3G phone and up to 10 on a 4G LTE smartphone. After a few quick steps, the phone creates its own secure Wi-Fi network, which your devices can join. There’s no need for a USB cable, and multiple users can share your phone’s mobile data plan.

There are just a few things to keep in mind: Be aware that any data used by a connected device will be deducted from the total amount of data you’ve selected in your plan. Also, be sure not to disable the mobile hotspot’s Wi-Fi password; if disabled, anyone could connect to the hotspot without your knowledge or permission and potentially access any data being transmitted.

Wi-Fi Hotspot Features

The Wi-Fi hotspot capabilities on the iPhone and Android are a type of tethering, but unlike other tethering options that work over USB or Bluetooth, you can connect multiple devices simultaneously.

Cost: To use the service, your cell phone needs to have a data plan on its own. Some wireless carriers include hotspot features for free but others might charge a separate tethering or hotspot plan, which might run you around $15/month. However, sometimes you can get around this extra charge by rooting or jailbreaking your smartphone and using a tethering app to turn it into a wireless mobile hotspot.

Security: By default, the wireless network you set up with your smartphone is usually encrypted with strong WPA2 security, so unauthorized users can’t connect to your devices. For added security, if you’re not prompted to set up a password, go into the settings to add or change the password.

Downside: Using your phone as a wireless modem drains the battery life, so make sure you turn the Wi-Fi hotspot feature off after you’re done using it. Also, see some other ways you can save battery when your phone is working as a hotspot.

Where to Find the Wi-Fi Hotspot Settings

The hotspot capability on smartphones are typically in the same area of the settings, and let you change similar options like the network name and password, and maybe even the security protocol.

  • Android: The hotspot feature on Androids is called Portable Wi-Fi Hotspot or Tethering and Mobile HotSpot, and is normally found in Settings > Connections.
  • iPhone: For iPhones, it’s labelled as Personal Hotspot on the front page of the Settings app. Older versions of iOS might need to go into Settings > General > Network first. See how to use your iPhone as a hotspot if you need help.
  • BlackBerry: Look for the setting in Manage Connections > Wi-Fi > Mobile hotspot. To make changes to the settings might require you to access Options > Network and Connections > Mobile Hotspot Connections > Options.
    • BlackBerrys give you finer control over the hotspot options, like letting you alter the wireless band, allow/disallow file transfers between the clients and auto-shutdown of the hotspot.
  • Windows Phone: The hotspot section on Windows Phone is in Settings > Internet Sharing.