In today’s world, staying connected to the internet has become a necessity for most people. However, there are times when Wi-Fi is not available or feasible, leaving us without internet access. This is where tethering comes in as a useful solution. What is tethering, you may ask? Don’t worry, by the end of this post you will have a better understanding of tethering and how it can be used to stay connected.

What Is Tethering and Why Is It Used?

Tethering refers to the process of using a mobile device as a modem to connect to the internet through a wired or wireless connection. It allows users to share their mobile data connection with other devices, such as laptops, tablets, and other mobile devices as long as those devices support an internet connection.

How Does Tethering Work?

Tethering works by allowing one device to use the internet connection of another device. This is particularly useful when a device needs to connect to the internet but is not within range of a Wi-Fi network. Tethering enables the device to use the data connection of another device, such as a smartphone, to access the internet. The specific process of setting up tethering will depend on the devices and operating systems being used. However, most devices have built-in tethering functionality, which can be accessed through the device settings. Once tethering is enabled, the client device can use the internet connection of the host device, allowing it to access the internet even when Wi-Fi is not available.


USB Tethering:

USB tethering involves connecting two devices with a physical USB cable. This method is typically the most stable and secure, as it does not rely on wireless connectivity. It also typically uses less power than Wi-Fi or Bluetooth tethering, making it a good option for conserving battery life. However, it does require a physical connection between the devices, which may not be convenient in all situations.

Wi-Fi Tethering:

Wi-Fi tethering creates a wireless hotspot that other devices can connect to. This is typically the most convenient method of tethering, as it doesn’t require any physical cables and can be used by multiple devices simultaneously. However, it can be less secure than USB tethering and can drain the battery of the host device quickly, especially if multiple devices are connected.

Bluetooth Tethering:

Bluetooth tethering uses Bluetooth to establish a wireless connection between the two devices. This method is a good option if you only need to use the internet for light browsing or emailing, but it may not be ideal for more data-intensive activities like streaming video. It also typically uses less power than Wi-Fi tethering, making it a good option for conserving battery life. However, the range and speed of Bluetooth tethering can be limited, and it may not be suitable for all devices and situations.

What Is Tethering Used For?

Mobile tethering can be useful in various situations when you need to connect to the internet, but Wi-Fi or a wired connection is not available. When you’re traveling or on the go, and there’s no Wi-Fi, using mobile tethering can help you access the internet on your laptop or tablet. This feature is also useful in remote areas where Wi-Fi is not available, but you have a stable mobile data connection. In crowded areas or places with weak or unreliable Wi-Fi connections, mobile tethering can provide a more reliable way to access the internet.

Sharing your internet connection with others in a group can also be done via mobile tethering. This feature lets you connect multiple devices to your mobile hotspot and share the internet connection with others. Finally, mobile tethering can serve as a backup option in case your primary internet connection fails.

When Is Tethering Not the Best Choice?

One of the main disadvantages of tethering is that it can drain the battery of the host device quickly. This is particularly true when using Wi-Fi or Bluetooth tethering, as the host device must maintain a wireless connection to the client device. Another disadvantage of tethering is that it can use up the data allowance of the host device quickly. This can be particularly problematic if the host device has a limited data plan or is being used by multiple devices simultaneously.

Tethering and Network Carrier Restrictions

It is important to note that some network carriers may have restrictions or additional charges for using tethering. This is because tethering can use up more data than just using a single device, and network carriers may want to limit data usage to prevent network congestion. Some carriers may also offer specific tethering plans or add-ons, which can provide additional data allowances or other benefits for tethering. It is important to check with your carrier to understand any restrictions or additional charges associated with tethering before using it.

Tethering on Different Devices and Operating Systems

Tethering is available on a variety of devices and operating systems, including smartphones, tablets, and laptops. However, the specific process of tethering can vary depending on the device and operating system.

For example, on an iPhone, you can enable tethering by going to Settings > Personal Hotspot.

On an Android device, you can enable tethering by going to Settings > Network & Internet > Hotspot & tethering.

On a Windows PC, you can enable tethering by connecting your smartphone via USB and then going to Settings > Network & Internet > Mobile hotspot.

On a Mac, you can enable tethering by connecting your smartphone via USB and then going to System Preferences > Sharing > Internet Sharing.

It is important to refer to your device’s user manual or online resources for specific instructions on how to enable tethering on your device and operating system.

Tethering and Battery Life

Using tethering can drain the battery life of both the host device and the client device. The host device, which is providing the internet connection, may experience a significant drain on its battery, especially if using Wi-Fi tethering or Bluetooth tethering. To minimise battery drain, it is recommended to use USB tethering, when possible, as this typically uses less power than Wi-Fi or Bluetooth tethering. It is also important to monitor the battery level of both the host and client devices and to charge them as necessary to ensure uninterrupted internet access.

Tethering and Data Security

When using tethering, it is important to be aware of potential security risks. Because the two devices are connected directly, without the encryption and security protocols of a Wi-Fi network, it may be easier for hackers to intercept and steal data. To minimise the risk of data theft, it is recommended to use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) when tethering. A VPN creates an encrypted tunnel between the client device and a remote server, providing an additional layer of security for data transmitted over the tethered connection.

It’s also important to only enable tethering on trusted devices and networks and to use strong passwords to secure both the host and client devices. Finally, you should monitor your device and data usage regularly to make sure there is no unauthorised access or usage of your tethered connection.

Tethering and Internet Speed

When tethering, the speed of the internet connection can be affected by a variety of factors that include the quality of the cellular network, the type of tethering used, and the number of devices connected to the host device. For example, if using Wi-Fi tethering, the speed of the connection can be affected by the distance between the two devices, as well as any obstructions or interference in the signal path. Similarly, if multiple devices are connected to the host device, this can slow down the internet connection for all devices. To optimise the speed of your tethered connection, it is recommended to use the fastest available type of tethering (usually USB tethering), to keep the number of connected devices to a minimum, and to ensure that the host device has a strong cellular signal.

Tethering and Legal Considerations in the US

In the United States, tethering is generally legal and widely used, but there are certain legal considerations to keep in mind when using tethering. First, it is important to review the terms and conditions of your cellular service provider, as some providers may limit or prohibit tethering or impose additional charges for its use. Some states may have laws regulating the use of tethering while driving, as distracted driving laws may also apply to tethering. Finally, it is important to be aware of potential copyright violations when using tethering to share copyrighted content, such as movies or music.

Tethering is a valuable technology that can provide internet access to devices in situations where Wi-Fi is not available or feasible. It is important to choose the appropriate type of tethering for your needs, monitor battery life and data usage, and take steps to maintain the security of your data. It’s also important to be aware of legal considerations, such as regulatory restrictions and copyright laws, to avoid any potential legal consequences. Tethering can be a convenient and practical solution to a range of issues, so it is important to take the time to understand the technology to fully realise its benefits.