How does tethering work?

Wi-Fi tethering

With the increased growth of Wi-Fi hotspots, the use of tethering has become scarcer over the years. However, tethering is an excellent resource for people looking for internet access on the go.

Many people look for ways and technologies that enable them to connect to the internet while on the go. While there are numerous Wi-Fi hotspots everywhere, they are more prone to security threats and slow connection speeds. One of the most overlooked ways of sharing internet connection with other devices is by tethering.

Over the years, tethering has become a valuable resource as it features increased data limits and connection speeds, and the ability to handle the advanced 5G networks. When you tether your device with cellular network functionality, you allow it to connect with other devices, either physically through a USB cable or wirelessly through Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. Without further ado, let us look at what tethering is and how it works.

What is tethering?

Tethering involves broadcasting the signal of your phone’s or another device to allow other devices to connect to the internet using its mobile data. It uses Network Address Translation (NAT) technology to share its internet connection with other devices, like laptops, tablets, or other phones, allowing the internet sharing device to work as a router or modem. As a result, the internet sharing device forms a public IP, while the connecting devices have a private IP that enables them to connect through tethering.

Depending on the equipment you have, there are three main types of tethering. You can tether your devices through a USB cable, Wi-Fi, or Bluetooth. You may also use third-party tethering apps or unique tethering/data plans from your mobile carrier. Furthermore, most Android, Windows, and iOS smartphones come with an in-built tethering feature.

How to tether Wi-Fi

How does tethering work?

Wi-Fi tethering is the most popular means of tethering and sharing the internet with other devices. By using this method of tethering, you allow your internet sharing device to transform into a little portable hotspot by creating a network that other devices can use to connect.

Tethering using Wi-Fi is easy to install. All you have to do is enable your Personal Hotspot on your device and allow other devices to connect by turning on their Wi-Fi functionality. Depending on whether you are using a Windows, Android, or iOS device, the wording for setting up Wi-Fi tethering may vary. However, the functionality is basically the same.

On Android devices, open the Settings menu on your smartphone and navigate to Network & Internet, Wireless networks, or Wireless, depending on the Android version you have. From there, tap Portable hotspot, Tethering, or Mobile Network Sharing, but if it is not there, look for the More option and then look for such options or something similar.

Upon opening that list, you should see a list of tethering options, including Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and USB. If you are looking to use Wi-Fi tethering, choose the Wi-Fi option, and configure it by setting up the network name and password. Once you set up, connect to that network on other devices by merely enabling its Wi-Fi connections. Choose the right network and enter the password to enjoy fast and reliable connectivity.

How to tether through Bluetooth

If your laptop or phone can connect to other devices through an in-built Bluetooth feature, you can also share your cellular data via Bluetooth tethering. All you need to do is pair your devices by opening the Bluetooth menu and making the device discoverable. On your other device, open its Bluetooth settings and navigate to where you can look for new devices to pair with. Wait for your discoverable device to show up, and once it shows up, tap it to initiate the pairing process.

As both devices begin to pair, you will get a prompt notification with similar but unique codes on both devices to confirm the pairing process. Tap Pair on both devices, and soon after, you will be connected through Bluetooth.

To use the Bluetooth tethering feature on your internet sharing device, open the Settings menu on your device, and navigate to the Tethering and Mobile hotspot option. Once you tap the tethering option, you should get a list of options, including Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and USB tethering. Click to enable Bluetooth tethering on this device.

If you want to connect to the network using a computer, open the Bluetooth icon on its system tray and tap Join a personal area network. You should see your internet sharing device on the menu. Proceed to click on it and tap on the Connect using drop-down menu and choose Access point. You will receive a confirmation prompt once your connection is established, allowing you to connect to the internet using the Bluetooth connection.

How to tether using a USB cable

How to tether using a USB cable

USB tethering is the simplest tethering method of all three options. All you need to do is connect your devices using a USB cable, and you will see a USB tethering option on the quick notification prompt. Toggle on it, and you will immediately enjoy internet access.

Does tethering use more data?

Even though you have more than enough mobile data on your device, tethering will not necessarily be covered. Tethering burns through your data allowance quickly as browsing through other devices, like laptops and computers, consumes more data than when browsing through your cellphone. Often, this is primarily because when loading websites on your computer, you access full desktop pages instead of data-sipping mobile equivalents.

As a result, it is advisable to consult your network carrier on its terms of tethering. If you will be accessing the internet on a device that you are not paying to access the internet on, you will probably be going against the carrier’s terms and conditions. In most cases, you will have to enroll to a tethering/data plan from your carrier at extra costs.

Via Wi-Fi
Via Bluetooth
Via USB cabling
How to tether
Enable your Personal Hotspot on your device and allow other devices to connect by turning on their Wi-Fi functionality
By pairing your devices and making one of them discoverable, while the other one searching for it on its Bluetooth settings
Connect your devices using a USB cable, and enable the USB tethering option on the quick notification prompt


Tethering is a fast and reliable option for sharing and accessing the internet over various devices, like tablets, laptops, and smartphones. It is an ideal option when you need to access the internet for a few hours as it chews through your device’s battery life. Otherwise, invest in a dedicated mobile broadband device for a more stable and robust internet plan.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is tethering dangerous for your Android phone?

If it has an in-built tethering feature, it is designed to handle this functionality. However, tethering will affect your battery life drastically.

Is it better to use USB tethering instead of the mobile hotspot feature?

If you want to connect one device to your internet sharing device, it is better to use the USB tethering feature to guarantee faster speeds, saves battery life, and security of your device. If you want to connect more than one device, it is best to use the mobile hotspot feature.

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Mathew Blake
Hi my name is Mathew Blake. My love for technology stemmed from a curiosity and fascination is small gadgets ever since I could remember. The Globe is a hotbed for rapidly advancing technology that has brought us a multiple gadgets, appliances and devices and I am here for it. is a blog that is very enjoy writing and researching for. My passion for tech led me to specialize in several technology-related fields, the main being IT. As an IT specialist, my main job is to cater to technical needs in many businesses. I enjoy working all tech related- fields especially ones that allow me to interact with the consumer.


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