Learn how a mobile hotspot works
A mobile hotspot uses data. Whether this data is part of your mobile or Wi-Fi plan depends on how you set up the hotspot.
A mobile hotspot is a physical device that allows you to connect to the Internet by acting as a localized Wi-Fi network. It can be a dedicated device or something like your smartphone or tablet that has a cellular connection.
The name may sound like Wi-Fi hotspot, but it’s very different. Effectively, it gives your devices an experience similar to connecting to Wi-Fi, but it does so using mobile data. This data is acquired by purchasing a package through a mobile operator.
Does a mobile hotspot use a lot of data?
A mobile hotspot can use a large amount of data. It depends on how you use it. When you browse the Internet via Wi-Fi or your smartphone, the amount of data you use depends on your activity.
For example, if you’re downloading a song through a mobile hotspot, it will probably be 3-4 MB in size. Alternatively, a Zoom meeting (or any web conference) can use anywhere from 540MB to 1.62GB per hour, depending on the stream quality of the call. Streaming a movie also requires around 1 GB per hour and increases to 3 GB per hour when watching HD content. By comparison, streaming a video on YouTube is much smoother on data usage. This will probably be around 550 MB of data per hour in standard definition.
Depending on your data plan, you may want to use the Internet sparingly, so as not to use too much data. Simply browsing the internet or using email usually only uses about 60 MB per hour.
How can I use a mobile hotspot without using data?
Some mobile hotspot devices, especially smartphones, can use a feature called Wi-Fi Tethering (or similar) to temporarily turn the hotspot into a router. By turning it on in your settings, you can avoid using mobile data and connect to a nearby Wi-Fi network.
Settings are usually found under Wireless & Networks or similar on Android or iOS smartphones. Find a Wi-Fi network like you would any other device and connect to it to save mobile data. Some devices also work via USB if your access point or smartphone supports the method.
Can a smartphone work as a mobile hotspot?
Yes, a smartphone works great as a mobile hotspot. Both Android and iOS phones have options to set it up as a personal hotspot that your other devices can connect to, just like a regular Wi-Fi network. Most carriers support the service as long as you have at least 4G LTE.
How to set up and use a personal hotspot on iPhone
How to set up and use a personal hotspot on Android
It’s also often possible to connect multiple devices to your smartphone’s mobile hotspot, though service may be slower if you do. It’s also important to check your data limits or commit to an unlimited data plan, so it doesn’t cost you a fortune.
Once a smartphone has entered mobile hotspot mode, you can browse the Internet as you would with any other connection.
How do I connect a mobile hotspot to a laptop?
Once you’ve set up mobile hotspot, your laptop will connect just like any other wireless network. Open Wi-Fi settings and find your phone’s name. You can also use a wired connection with your phone’s data cable.
How to connect a hotspot from mobile to mobile?
Just like with a laptop or desktop, a phone can connect to a mobile hotspot over Wi-Fi (you can also use Bluetooth, but Wi-Fi is much faster). You can also connect two phones with a single cable, but this option is more useful for transferring specific files between them.