Connectivity Ever After: Using Your Phone to Create WiFi Hotspot

November 6, 2017

by Martin England

In the Dark - Photo by M. England

Last week’s storm reminded us all of the fragile nature of our electrical and technological infrastructure. For those living in Southern New Hampshire and Maine, the storm took out power, internet, cable, and cell service for most. While generators can power houses, the same doesn’t hold true when it comes to internet service. Sure, reading by candlelight, playing Risk, and cooking on your grill is kind of romantic, but in this technology-dependent day and age, things can get claustrophobic quickly. The din of churning neighborhood generators alone will leave you pining for the distracting confines of Facebook and Netflix. What is a family to do when their internet service provider goes dark?

You turn to Plan B: turning your mobile phone into a Personal Hotspot (called Portable WiFi Hotspot or Mobile Hotspot on Androids). This technique will connect most wireless-enabled laptops, tablets, and desktops to the internet anywhere, any place, any time, assuming you have decent cell service (one bar simply won’t cut it). Many even suggest the Personal Hotspot is a more secure option than accessing a public WiFI hotspot, as the connection is encrypted, and the password is relegated to those to whom you provide it (in lieu of having the resident barista pass it out or post it freely). You can also connect multiple devices to a hotspot, but keep in mind the more devices you connect, the slower the internet speed. If you use the Personal Hotspot for more than 10 minutes, consider connecting a charger to your phone, as it draws a lot of power. You will also need to ensure this option is available with your mobile plan, and using it can be costly, so make sure to disable this feature after use.

Connecting your device to a hotspot is fairly simple. If you are using Bluetooth or wifi to tether your device, you’ll first need to pair it.

Requirements: Laptop or table running Windows XP SP2 or later, Vista, Windows 7 or Mac OS 10.5.7 or later. You’ll also need a free USB port, iTunes 8.2 or later installed, and an iPhone USB cable. You will also need to know the name of your phone, as it will appear as a wireless network.

Connecting a Mac device to an iPhone:

  1. Open Settings on your iPhone.
  2. Open Personal Hotspot, and then slide to On.
  3. Connect the iPhone to your laptop or tablet using a USB cable or Bluetooth or WiFi.
  4. On your laptop, desktop, or tablet, choose your phone from the list of wireless networks and enter the WiFi Password displayed on your phone. Note: You can change the password by simply touching on the Wi-Fi Password option and entering a new password.

Follow these instructions if you’re using a Windows laptop, desktop, or tablet:

  1. Click on the Bluetooth icon in your iPhone's Notification area (the system tray).
  2. Select Add a Bluetooth device, and follow the onscreen instructions.
  3. When you've successfully paired your iPhone with your laptop or tablet, click on the Bluetooth icon in the Notification area again.
  4. Select Show Bluetooth devices.
  5. Highlight your iPhone, and then click the Properties button.
  6. Now click the Services tab.
  7. Then tick the Wireless iAP checkbox, and click OK
  8. To connect your Windows laptop or tablet, click on the Bluetooth icon in your iPhone's Notification area (system tray).
  9. Click on Join A Personal Area Network.
  10. Now click Connect.

Creating a WiFi or Mobile Hotspot on Android (this may vary depending on your device and version of OS):

  1. Go to Settings.
  2. Under Wireless & Networks, tap More.
  3. Tap Tethering & Portable Hotspot.
  4. Tap Set Up Wi-Fi Hotspot to set your password. Tap Save.
  5. Tap the slider next to Portable WiFi Hotspot to enter Hotspot mode.
  6. On your laptop, desktop, or tablet, choose your phone from the list of wireless networks and enter the WiFi Password displayed on your phone.

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