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Computer Fixer Blog >> General Blog

February 18, 2014

The Tethering Knowhow Guide for Newbies

 The Tethering Know-how Guide for Newbies

Nearly anywhere you go, it seems like you can get an Internet connection. But you may find yourself in a remote diner, library or a city park, and either have no signal or it's so faint, that you can't keep a connection. If your smartphone has a strong signal, then you have another option. Find out from these tips what tethering is and can what it can do for you, and you'll never be left without a network connection again.

Types of Tethering

Tethering is a way for your computer to tap into the signal used by your smartphone. There are three ways to tether your phone to your computer:USB, Bluetooth and WiFi.

USB tethering allows you to connect one device, laptop or tablet, to your phone. You'll need a USB cable that connects your phone to the computer. It can be the same cable you use to charge your phone from a USB port. On your computer, you'll setup the smartphone as a USB modem. Your computer will then connect to your phone as a network device and you should see an Internet connection. Your phone will also charge while it's connected with the USB cord so there'll be no drain on your battery.

Bluetooth tethering requires no cable but does require Bluetooth on your computer and smartphone. Android phones have this built in as of version 4.0 of the Android operating system, says Android Authority. PadGadget says that Bluetooth is available as of 4.3 of the iOS operating system on your iPhone or iPad. Any new device with access to mobile Internet from T-Mobile or other carriers will have the Bluetooth option. If you have an older model phone, check the version of the operating system first.

To setup this type of tethering, pair your smartphone to your computer just like you would a pair of Bluetooth headphones. Once the paring is complete, configure the connection type in Bluetooth on your computer as a network connection. The speed will be slower than with USB tethering and the phone's battery will drain faster unless you keep it plugged in to charge. Only one computer can be connected to your smartphone this way.

WiFi tethering is the most flexible option since it turns your phone into a wireless network. Also called a mobile hotspot, more than one computer may connect to the phone at the same time. This is also the easiest tethering option to set up. You may have an option called Mobile Hotspot on your phone. Enable it and the phone will begin to broadcast a wireless signal, just like a router. You can configure it like a router by designating the SSID and telling it whether to broadcast the SSID or not. If the SSID is broadcasted then everyone around you can see your network and may try to connect to it.

This connection causes a big drain on your smartphone's battery so you may want to keep your phone plugged in and charging if you'll be online for a long time. The speed is also faster than Bluetooth but a bit slower than a USB connection.

Restrictions on Tethering

Android Central notes that there are some rules about tethering you need to be aware of. Carriers have placed restrictions on the use of tethering on their devices. It was once simple to connect a computer to a phone, but they used the same data plan. Carriers decided they wanted to be able to charge for each device using a data plan. So each one implements different policies regarding the use of tethering on their devices. Most require additional fees to unlock the tethering capability of your phone. This is especially true of the mobile hotspot option.

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