Tethering iPhone: How, and How Much?

Tethering: How to Connect Anything Anywhere!

With 4G data speeds actually twice as fast as the UK average broadband connection speed of 12Mbps more and more people are going to want to be using their mobile phone as a 'modem', getting other devices such as a tablet or laptop online via the iPhone's data connection. This is called 'tethering' (because back in the old days you'd use a cable to connect the devices).

The tethering concept - one connection, two devices

This has been possible via jailbreaking (the act of making your iPhone run unapproved software) almost as long as jailbreaking has been a thing, and iOS 3 in 2009 added it as an official option for iPhone customers. At first the mobile networks either didn't support it or added extra charges for enabling it, but over time this has changed. In the 4G era it's more appealing than ever, and yet almost as confusing as ever, so lets try and demystify this useful feature of a modern mobile phone contract.

Can I Tether My iPhone to my iPad or Laptop?

The short answer is of course "yes", and this includes Windows or Linux computers, not just Macs. iOS makes it very simple;

  1. Go into the "Settings" App.
  2. Choose "Personal Hotspot"
  3. Turn it on, change the password if you are security-conscious (auto-generated passwords are always a poor choice), and that's it! You now have a WiFi network (hosted by your phone) your tablet or computer can join, and the internet should be available from there.

Well... it's almost that simple. The one thing you need to consider is your network's position on tethering:

EE Included in all plans, no extra charge (excludes Orange & T-Mobile tariffs)
O2 Included in all plans, at no extra charge, only where 500Mb or more of data is included in the tariff.
Vodafone Allowed on all tariffs, no extra charge
Three Tethering included in The One Plan tariffs only. These include 'All You Can Eat' unlimited data.

So, provided your network allows it on your tariff, tethering is an attractive option for most people because you need only buy a WiFi tablet instead of one with a SIM card (that's a £130 saving on iPads, for instance). It can also make a useful backup to a home internet connection when BT or Virgin decide you don't need the internet today!

Don't forget to monitor your usage because larger, more complicated devices can burn through data allowances in minutes (for instance, a typical Windows Update can be 100Mb, or a sneaky TV episode download continuing in the background might eat up to 1Gb). Of course one solution to this is to take out a plan with unlimited data like The One Plan.

One top tip is to consider using a (standard charging/sync) cable rather than WiFi if you're tethering a laptop, as not using WiFi or Bluetooth will improve battery life.

 

Comments

I am waiting on my new iphone6 plus from 02 (and have been for a while), was going to go with Three due to unlimited data, but they limit your tethering to 2GB (or some say 4GB) per month. Unlimited is not the word I'd use.

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