I had a 3G dongle a year ago. Initially its speed wasn’t bad, but with time its performance started to deteriorate. Few months back I was getting one fifth of the speed that I was promised. Despite being seriously pissed over this, I couldn’t show the courage to switch to a different provider because others were reportedly worse.
I know there are lots of people like me who have been duped by their connection providers. They feel a scalding anger seeing web pages are loading at a snail’s pace and call up the customer care. But the clever CCEs who receive their calls make them move in circles until they give up. Needless to say, their problems remain unsolved.
Having it happened so many times, I realized a permanent solution is needed. That’s when I gave Smartphone WiFi a thought. My idea was to dump the existing network provider, paying for a Smartphone so I could use its WiFi, and making my desktop WiFi ready so the Smartphone serves up as a hotspot and the desktop shares its connection.
Albeit I had a desktop computer in mind, 3G or 4G Tablets can also be powered by portable WiFi hotspots. The whole configuration is called tethering, anyone who’s a desktop user and carp about the speed that his carrier is providing could give it a thought. It may not make internet browsing ultra-fast, but at least you’d get what you are shelling out money for.
Selecting a Smartphone
Bad news is not all Smartphones support tethering. Good news is the top ones do. If you own an iPhone or a Motorola Droid or a Galaxy S phone from Samsung, then you are good to go. In case you are not sure whether a particular device has built-in WiFi hotspot option, then contact its manufacturer. If the phone lacks this feature, then don’t invest in it. If you’ve already purchased a phone that doesn’t support tethering, then sell it out and buy a new one that does.
Android devices fare better than iOS devices when it comes to tethering. Apple recognizes only the top network carriers, which means if you are using SIM card of a lesser known operator on your iPhone, you won’t be able to tether. Nevertheless, you could jailbreak your iPhone, problem is jailbreaking could be risky and you might end up losing all your data.
One line of advice if you are using Android; upgrade your device to a higher version before you tether. Remember, Wifi hotspot functionality is a built-in feature in Android but the higher the version, the better it’ll work.
Does your tariff support tethering?
It’s a sheer myth that carriers will start screaming if users turn their devices into WiFi hotspots. Truth is, carriers secretly wish users do so, the only thing they hate is the set of hacks that many a times accompany tethering. So if you move to a different tariff plan that supports tethering, then that will keep both you and your operator happy.
You may have to pay more than what you are paying now, but the idea is not to save money while browsing the web lightning fast, the idea is to get what you are paying money for. Besides, the alternative is worse, you’d pay for an expensive connection that doesn’t deliver what it promises to deliver.
There are plenty of third party apps for Android devices that let you use your Smartphone as a WiFi hotspot without subscribing to a pricier tariff plan. But such practices are unsolicited and I don’t endorse them.
The misconception is quite prevalent that if your plan is unlimited, then you can tether bypassing your carrier. Nothing can be further from truth. Bear in mind data plans are unlimited only from a user’s point of view, for a carrier nothing is unlimited. If you are tethering and network provider is oblivious to it, then you are consuming more data than you have consumed had you not tethered. So the carrier is losing out on opportunities to make money and that’s only because of you.
Therefore, it’s always recommended to switch to a higher tariff if the existing tariff plan doesn’t let you tether.
Setting up a WiFi hotspot
- Android devices – If your device runs Android, then first go to Settings, then tap on More. There you’ll find a number of wireless setting options like NFC, VPN, etc. Once you tap on Tethering & portable hotspot, you’ll see USB and Bluetooth tethering alongside Set up WiFi hotspot, on which you need to tap. You can make the connection encrypted; the service set identifier will recognize AndroidAP as the connection standard and Wi-Fi Protected Access 2 – Pre-Shared Key as the security standard.
- iOS devices – If you use an iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch, then setting up a WiFi hotspot is a child’s play. All you need to do is go to Settings and then Cellular. There you’ll find an option called Personal Hotspot. Tap on it to activate it. Once it is activated, others would be able to see the shared network but it will be protected through a password.
Make your desktop WiFi ready
Now we’ve come to the easiest part. The hotspot is now set up and you need to connect your desktop to it. For that the device needs to be WiFi ready. A wireless adapter is needed for that. A 802.11 b/g wireless standard adapter will be enough. Just plug it to your device’s USB port and install the corresponding software. If your desktop/laptop runs Windows 7, then it’s a walk in the park; just few clicks and the computer will be able to connect to the hotspot.
One thing that you need to watch out for is whether the automatic updates on the phone is disabled, because during tethering, if your phone downloads sizable updates, then that will result in data wastage, for the same reason you need to keep an eye on how much data your desktop is consuming.
Having said that, these considerations are only for those who use limited data plans.
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