Tethering is the act of sharing your phone’s mobile data connection with another device—such as your laptop or tablet—connecting it to the Internet through your phone’s data connection. There are several ways to tether on Android.
Tethering is useful when you’re somewhere where and don’t have Wi-Fi access, do have cellular data access, and want to do something on your computer instead of your phone. But you may pay extra for the convenience.
Will It Cost Money?
Depending on your carrier, this may or may not cost you money. In the US, most major carriers charge extra for tethering. Consult your carrier’s website for more information about what they charge for tethering. An additional $20 fee to tether isn’t unusual in the USA.
It’s possible to get around these restrictions by installing and using a third-party tethering app, or if you’re rooted, unblocking Android’s built-in tethering feature. However, your carrier may notice you’re tethering anyway — they can tell because web traffic from your laptop looks different from web traffic from your mobile phone—and they may helpfully add a tethering plan to your account, charging you the standard tethering fee. If you’re lucky, they may not notice, just don’t be surprised if they make you pay the tethering fee.
Of course, standard data limits and charges apply. For example, if your carrier provides 2GB of data per month and you use 3GB between tethering and your normal smartphone usage, you’ll be subject to your plan’s normal penalties—extra charges or speed throttling—even if the carrier doesn’t notice you’re tethering.
Lastly, tethering drains battery—fast. When not actively using tethering, you should disable it to save power on your Android phone and keep its battery going longer.
Types of Tethering
We’ll cover how to use each tethering method. Here’s how they compare:
- Wi-Fi Tethering: Wi-Fi tethering turns your phone into a little Wi-Fi hotspot. It creates a Wi-Fi network that you connect to with your computer. It has decent speeds and you can connect more than one device—but the battery will drain faster than if you used one of the below options.
- Bluetooth Tethering: Bluetooth tethering is significantly slower than Wi-Fi, but uses less battery. You can only tether one device at a time via Bluetooth as well. It probably isn’t worth using unless you’re really trying to stretch your battery.
- USB Tethering: USB tethering has the fastest speeds, but you have to connect your phone to your laptop with a USB cable. Your phone’s battery won’t drain because it will draw power from your computer’s USB port.
In addition to the standard Android tethering options, there are other ways you might want to tether:
- Third-Party Tethering Apps: If tethering is disabled on a phone you acquired from a carrier, you can install third-party apps and use them to tether. Your carrier may charge you anyway if they notice.
- Reverse Tethering: In rare situations, you may want to share your computer’s Internet connection with your Android phone instead. This is useful if you only have wired Ethernet connections in the area and don’t have access…
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