In a world where the internet is an absolutely essential tool, finding yourself without a connection can be extremely jarring. Doing work on the go, particularly on a tablet or a laptop, means that you will often have to rely on nearby Wi-Fi networks.
Unfortunately, that option is not always available or economically viable. Hotel rooms might offer Wi-Fi access at exorbitant prices, for example. The good news is that if you have a data connection on your phone, you are practically carrying a mobile Wi-Fi hotspot in your pocket.
What is tethering?
Tethering is simply the act or process of using one device as a modem (or tether) to another. More specifically, it refers to sharing the internet connection of a device, such as a phone, with another device, such as a laptop or a tablet.
This is accomplished in one of three ways: by turning a phone into a Wi-Fi-transmitting, portable hotspot, via USB, or via Bluetooth. All three use a phone’s mobile data connection but the hotspot option operates like any other Wi-Fi connection, meaning that any third-party device can connect to it, as long as they enter the necessary credentials.
Worth nothing at this point, however, is the fact that several data plans from various networks have strict restrictions on tethering. Those will vary widely so you should check the terms and conditions before you proceed. Should your carrier not allow tethering, they will simply block the process without any further action.
How to tether/create a Wi-Fi hotspot
Though the process is mostly the same for all Android devices, the Settings menu does have some slight differences depending on the manufacturer. For the purposes of this article, the steps will refer to stock Android 7.1.1, the latest update of the operating systemOpen the Settings menu. The quickest way to do that is to swipe down from the top of your screen and then tap on the gear icon.
1. Open the Settings menu. The quickest way to do that is to swipe down from the top of your screen and then tap on the gear icon.
2. Once there, tap on ‘More’ under the ‘Wireless & networks’ menu near the top.
3. Here, you will see an option that reads ‘Tethering & portable hotspot’. Tap on that to continue.
4. You now have three different options. If you have a USB cable, you can choose to connect your phone to another device, such as your laptop, and turn on USB tethering. Alternatively, you can choose to share your connection via Bluetooth to trusted devices. Finally, you can turn on the ‘Portable Wi-Fi hotspot’ option.
4b. Should you choose to proceed with the hotspot option, you should first tap on the ‘Set up Wi-Fi hotspot’ setting. The ‘Security’ and ‘AP Band’ options should be left alone unless you know what they are for. Otherwise, you can simply change the ‘Network name’ as well as the “Password” fields to whatever you desire.
More options for Nexus and Pixel users
If you own a Nexus or Pixel device, then you might be interested in Instant Tethering, an all-new feature by Google. This option, which is automatically turned on in the latest update, will allow your devices to share their mobile data connection to other Pixel or Nexus devices which are signed in with the same Google account.
When you are using such a device without a connection, you will simply get a notification asking if you want to turn tethering on. The process should go smoothly but this is an entirely new feature so you might need to head over to Settings > Google > Instant Tethering and turn it on manually.