How To Create Your Own Mobile Wi-Fi Hotspot

Saturday, December 15, 2012

How To Create Your Own Mobile Wi-Fi Hotspot

Go ahead, admit it. When you're not connected to the Internet you feel, well, not connected. You feel disoriented, abandoned, cut off from the world; you feel so suicidal, just like Dylan's Mr. Jones. (Extra points for identifying the song reference.)

Having Wi-Fi connections at home isn't a problem. You likely have a router to supply plenty of Wi-Fi juice for answering email, surfing the Web, streaming video or music. (If you don't have a router at home, see "How To Install a Wi-Fi Router – and Why.") Your home Wi-Fi is probably how you're reading this very post.
create mobile wifi hotspot
But on the road, connecting is not so easy, making you a victim of the modern age. But you can be helped (and lots of extra points for identifying the film this is from – and no fair Googling it).
There are two ways of getting Wi-Fi access anywhere away from home – supplying it yourself or finding someone else to supply it.
Today we'll discuss the varying DIY mobile Wi-Fi hotspot solutions.
Smartphone hotspot solutions
Obviously the best way of staying in touch with the connected world when you're not at home is via a smartphone.
But you can't exactly compose long email tomes on that tiny keyboard, the small screen isn't exactly conducive for watching any more than a couple of streaming video, and even if it was large enough (such as the Samsung Galaxy Note II), you don't want to burn through your entire data bucket in one sitting.
But you can use your 4G LTE smartphone (or tablet) as a "mobile hotspot" to supply a Wi-Fi connection to a larger device, such as a tablet or a laptop.
In other words, your 4G LTE smartphone can transform its incoming 4G LTE connection into Wi-Fi to supply wireless Internet connectivity to up to eight devices, depending on the smartphone.
Just check with your carrier to make sure you have mobile hotspot privileges and for any additional fees. Usually, whatever data your smartphone supplies via its hotspot will come out of your monthly data plan, so watch your usage carefully.
Android smartphone hotspots
If you have an Android smartphone, go to Settings (and these instructions may differ depending on what version of the Android operating system your phone is running). Then…
  • Tap "Wireless and Network"
  • Tap "Tethering and portable hotspot" ("tethering" requires a wired connection between your phone and your needing-to-be-connected device) or "Tethering and Mobile Hotspot"
  • Toggle of "Portable" or "Mobile hotspot"
You may be asked to identify all or particular devices your going to allow your smartphone hotspot to be detected or connected to.
You smartphone's mobile Wi-Fi hotspot name and password will be listed on the phone's screen.
On your laptop or tablet, check your Wi-Fi connectivity settings to find available networks, then connect to your smartphone's Wi-Fi to way you would for any hotspot.
iPhone's personal hotspot
If you have an iPhone 5 – the only iPhone with mobile Wi-Fi hotspot capabilities – go to Settings. Then…
Tap "Personal Hotspot" (it should be the fourth item from the top; if it's not there, check with your carrier)
Turn on "Personal Hotspot"; your iPhone's Wi-Fi Password should be listed just below the hotspot on/off toggle, along with instructions on how to access your iPhone's Wi-Fi signal from another device.
Your iPhone should now be "discoverable," meaning other devices can "see" it.
Go to your laptop's Wi-Fi connectivity settings and look for your iPhone among the available networks. It may take a couple of minutes for your device to "see" your iPhone. If you don't see your iPhone listed among available networks, wait a minute then try and refresh the list.
Once connected, instead of the familiar bar/wave icon indicating Wi-Fi connection, you'll see a pair of interlocking loops when your device is hotspot connected to an iPhone or iPad.
For either Android phones or iPhone, make sure your cellular data plan includes hotspot privileges. Also, be aware that your hotspot will eat into your monthly data plan, so keep an eye on your data usage. (On an iPhone, track your usage through Settings-General-Usage.)
On the iPhone 4 and 4S (as well as the iPhone 5) you can "tether" to create a cellular, rather than Wi-Fi, Internet connection for your laptop using Bluetooth or a USB cable. You can find directions for both these tethering methods on the Person Hotspot settings screen.
MiFi Liberate
If you don't have a 4G LTE smartphone and/or you can't or don't want to use your smartphone or tablet as a mobile hotspot, you can buy one of the handiest mobile Wi-Fi hotspot gadgets around, the Novatel Wireless MiFi Liberate, aka MiFi2, available from AT&T.
But you're not an AT&T subscriber, you say? No sweat. Just because your smartphone is serviced by one carrier doesn't mean you can't get a MiFi Liberate from AT&T. Personally, for instance, my and my wife's iPhones connect via AT&T, but my first generation MiFi and my iPad 3 connects via Verizon. Only if you have a data sharing plan – a plan in which multiple devices all dip from one monthly bucket of voice, text and data – offered by AT&TSprint and Verizon does it make sense to keep all your connected eggs in one basket.
In all events, this second generation pocket-sized device creates a mobile Wi-Fi hotspot the same way a smartphone does – converts 4G LTE signal into speedy Wi-Fi for up to 10 devices, twice as many as the first generation model.
Liberate represents a huge leap forward in MiFi. Instead of the four-hour battery life of the first generation models, Liberate pumps out the Wi-Fi for up to 11 hours.
Plus, thanks to the 2.8-inch color LCD touchscreen, this new MiFi enables a host of handy extras, such as:
  • track your data usage (pictured)
  • insert a microSD card to share files (I could access the files on a laptop, but not an iPad)
  • provide GPS to devices without GPS, such as the Kindle Fire HD
  • receive text messages
  • squeeze extra battery life by limiting its range
  • tether to a device for connection via USB rather than wireless
Your password is even included on one of the screens – no need to write it down separately.
On a speeding Amtrak train from NYC to Washington, D.C., I received a consistently speedy connection, with only occasional blank spots – speedier than Amtrak's own free Wi-Fi.
MiFi Liberate is on sale for $50 with a two-year data deal, or add it to an existing AT&T Mobile Share data bucket for $20/month.
If you want Wi-Fi with you anywhere you go, don't leave home without the MiFi Liberate.
Don't want a DIY mobile Wi-Fi hotspot solution? Tomorrow I'll discuss safely connecting to someone else's mobile Wi-Fi hotspot – many of them free.
Source:  Technology

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