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How to use Tethering & Portable Wi-Fi Hotspot

grand master

 

 

If you have a giffgaff gigabag, you can use the wi-fi hotspot feature on your phone to tether your other devices to the internet. This will allow you to access mobile internet from devices such as a tablet, PC or laptop.

 

What is Tethering?

 

 

One of the main benefits of mobile technology is ubiquitous connectivity. Whether you’re in a pub, on the train, in a car or in the office, you can always pick up your mobile phone to access the internet. By tethering, you can extend the mobile internet connection from your smartphone onto other devices.

 

With tethering enabled, you’ll be able to access mobile internet on all of your devices. It’s a great way to get connected whilst you’re on-the-go: you can use your laptop to work on the train and you can use your tablet to watch online videos even when away from home. You can also tether when you want to download new applications, games, music files or photos.

 

To tether, you’ll need a reasonably new smartphone and a compatible tariff.

 

Gigabags & Tethering

 

If you’re a giffgaff member, you can only tether on a supported tariff. For most people, the best tariff to tether on will be giffgaff gigabags. These start from £5/month for 500MB of internet which can be tethered. Gigabags are also available with 1GB and 3GB of data.

 

You can also tether on giffgaff goodybags that do not feature unlimited data. The £10 Goodybag is one example: it comes with 1GB of internet which can be tethered. You can also tether on Pay As You Go (i.e. without a goodybag or a gigabag on your account). It costs 20p/day for up to 20MB. See the giffgaff price guide for the latest up-to-date information.

 

Tethering is not permitted on goodybags that include unlimited internet.

 

How to Tether

 

GiffgaffAP.jpgThere are three ways to share your mobile internet connection with another device:

 

  • Portable Wi-Fi Hotspot. This is the most popular method of tethering. It turns your phone into a “portable wi-fi hotspot”: a new wi-fi network is broadcast from your phone over which the mobile internet connection is shared. By connecting another wi-fi enabled device to the network, you’ll be able to get those devices online too. 5-10 devices can be connected at once including tablets, laptops, MP3 players, e-book readers and portable games consoles. Portable wi-fi hotspot is compatible with a large range of devices and offers good speeds.

  • Bluetooth Tethering. An alternative to the portable wi-fi hotspot is tethering via Bluetooth. This is a way in which the mobile internet connection can be shared from a smartphone to another Bluetooth-enabled device. There’s no need for wires: it all happens wirelessly. However, you can only connect one device at a time. Download speeds and broadcast range are also restricted. Many devices will also lack support for Bluetooth tethering. If Bluetooth tethering is available on your device, you’ll find improved battery life compared to a portable wi-fi hotspot. This is because power consumption is lower. Bluetooth allows you to tether a maximum of one device at a time.

  • Tethering via USB cable. If you have the necessary software installed on your computer, you can tether your phone to a computer using a USB cable. This can be good for battery life: your laptop will charge the phone whilst it’s tethering. The downsides are that you can only connect one device at a time. That device must be a computer that has a spare USB port.

To summarise all of the connection methods:

Connection Method

Devices Supported

Max Number of
Connected Devices

Speed

Battery Consumption

Portable Wi-Fi Hotspot

Any device that supports wi-fi (e.g. laptop, tablet, MP3 player, e-book reader and games console)

5-10 devices at one time

High

High

Bluetooth

Some Bluetooth-enabled devices

1 device

Low

Low

USB Cable

A laptop with relevant software installed

1 device

High

N/A, USB cable will charge phone whilst tethering

 

The easiest and fastest way to tether is via a portable wi-fi hotspot. Because it’s easy to set up, is fast and supports a large number of devices, it’s the most commonly used method for tethering. In this article, we’ll focus on this tethering over a wi-fi hotspot. We’ll also discuss tethering via Bluetooth and USB.

 

Tethering on an iPhone

 

iPhone 5.jpgIf you have an iPhone, you'll need to jailbreak it before you can tether on giffgaff. See this video for instructions on jailbreaking your iPhone.

 

Once you've jailbroken your iPhone, the wi-fi hotspot feature can be enabled as follows:

 

  1. From the main screen on your iPhone, select the ‘Settings’ application followed by ‘Personal Hotspot’. If you can’t find it, tap on ‘General’ followed by ‘Network’ and then ‘Portable Hotspot’.

  2. Flick the Personal Hotspot switch to ‘On’. Your iPhone will create a new wi-fi network over which your mobile internet connection is shared. The hotspot will automatically be given a name and a password. This will be displayed on the screen.

  3. Using another wi-fi enabled device, you can now connect to the hotspot. The hotspot from your iPhone will appear as a new option in the list of wi-fi networks. You’ll need to enter the password that’s displayed on the screen of your iPhone.

If you prefer to tether via USB or Bluetooth, you can find these settings in the Settings > General > Network menu. To tether via USB, you’ll need a computer with iTunes installed (version 8.2 or later). Your computer will also need to be running a recent version of Windows or Mac OS. Supported versions are Windows XP (SP2 and later), Windows Vista, Windows 7 and Mac OS X (version 10.5.7 and later).

 

Tethering on an Android device

 

Android Logo.jpgIf you’ve got a device with Android 2.2 or later, you can share its mobile internet connection with up to 10 other devices.

 

  1. From the applications list in Android, tap on the ‘Settings’ icon.

  2. Under ‘Wireless & Networks’, select ‘More settings’ followed by ‘Tethering & portable hotspot’.

  3. From here, you can enable the ‘Portable Wi-Fi hotspot’ option.

  4. It’s strongly recommended that you now secure your hotspot. Tap on the ‘Portable Wi-Fi hotspot’ option followed by the ‘Configure’ button.

    For ‘Network SSID’, enter the desired name for your wi-fi hotspot. This will appear as the name of the hotspot when you connect to it from other devices.

    Under the ‘Security’ option, you should select ‘WPA2 PSK’. You’ll also need to provide a password for the hotspot.

  5. Once you’ve set up the hotspot, you can now connect to it from other devices.

Android 1.jpg Android 2.jpg
How to set up and secure a wi-fi hotspot on Android.

 

If you prefer tethering over Bluetooth or USB, the options should appear on the same menu (Settings > Wireless & Networks > More settings > Tethering & portable hotspot). The option for USB tethering only appears when your phone is plugged in to a computer. USB tethering will only work if you have a recent version of Windows or Linux: it’s not compatible with Macs.

 

Tethering on a Windows Phone device

 

Windows Phone.jpgYou’ll need to be running Windows Phone 7.5 or later in order to tether. Using the “wi-fi hotspot” feature on a Windows Phone, you can share the internet with up to 5 other devices.

 

  1. Starting from the home screen, swipe to the right to access the ‘Settings’ menu followed by ‘Internet sharing’.

  2. Turn the ‘Sharing’ slider to ‘On’.

    WP Internet Sharing.jpg

  3. You should now configure your portable wi-fi hotspot by tapping on ‘Setup’. It’s recommended that you enable the “Password required (WPA2)” option. This ensures other people won’t be able to connect to your wi-fi network. You can also enter a “Broadcast name”. This will be the name of your new portable wi-fi hotspot.

  4. Once the portable hotspot has been enabled, it should appear as a new wi-fi network on other wi-fi enabled devices.

USB tethering and Bluetooth tethering are not officially supported on Windows Phone devices.

 

Tethering on a BlackBerry 10 Device

 

BlackBerry Logo.jpgIf you have a BlackBerry 10 device, you can use the portable wi-fi hotspot to tether up to 8 devices at a time.

 

  1. Starting from the menu, navigate to Settings > Network Connections > Mobile Hotspot.

  2. You’ll see a series of screens that explain how to use mobile hotspot. Click ‘Next’ on each of these screens.

  3. You’ll be prompted to provide a password for the portable wi-fi hotspot. Once you’ve done this, a screen will appear showing the name of the new wi-fi hotspot. This is the name of the network you should connect to from other devices. The screen will also show the data consumption associated with tethering.

Security & Data Consumption whilst Tethering

 

If you’re tethering over a portable wi-fi hotspot, it’s strongly recommended that you use password protect your hotspot. This will stop other people from connecting to your network and using your data allowance. It also makes your information more secure: data that’s transmitted on an encrypted hotspot will not be visible to other people. With most smartphones, there’s an option to add WPA2 encryption when you set up the hotspot.

 

Finally, when tethering, it’s worth thinking about data consumption. If you’re connecting your laptop to mobile internet via tethering, data consumption can be higher. Common culprits include automatic software updates, P2P applications and cloud storage services (e.g. Dropbox). Disabling these applications before you tether can make your download allowance go further.

 

Your Thoughts…

 

The tethering functionality on a giffgaff gigabag plan allows you to connect a variety of devices to the internet whilst you’re on-the-go. This includes tablets, laptops, e-book readers, MP3 players and games consoles. The devices don’t need to support 3G and you don’t need a new data plan: you simply need to tether through a smartphone and a supported tariff.

 

What devices do you use when you’re on-the-go? Do you use your tablet when you’re away from home? Have you tried tethering on a giffgaff gigabag? We’d love to hear your thoughts… please drop us a comment below and let us know what you think!

 

Ken Lo writes about mobile technology and the mobile industry at Ken's Tech Tips.

69 Comments
newcomer

I have an iPhone 4 which previously had the same personal hotspot diverting to O2 problem (and then not working) that others have mentioned.

 

However, after the recent automatic settings update, my personal hotspot now works fine. Giffgaff is also shown as the network. Excellent work, but it could have done with more of a fanfare. I only discovered this by chance.

 

I've also read a few criticisms about giffgaff being run for a profit and being a ripoff. I don't know what the problem is with a company being run for a profit, but it definitely is not a ripoff. I now spend £30 less each month as a minimum courtesy of giffgaff, and the customer support is leagues ahead of Vodafone and the company formerly known as Orange. 

 

Vodafone put me through several customer services reps in an effort to keep me as a customer, ultimately offering me a deal that was nearly as good as the standard £15 goody bag. Enjoy giffgaff while you can, and let's hope it doesn't get bought out by one of the big suppliers.

 

 

newcomer

I now know that Giffgaff is part of O2, so ignore my last comment. It's still much better than any other company I have used though.

newcomer

I want to buy a video camera which is P2P wifi inabled, then I want to connect it to my phone via a hotspot, then view the footage over my pc

 

Anyone done this?

newcomer
Can you use all of your data allowance on tethering or is there a limit ?
maestro
No limit, except on the always on goodybag - more info on that here
https://giffgaff.com/support/calls-and-internet/unlimited-internet-and-tethering
newcomer

Hello, great article and very useful but I have one question: I am about to set off on my own into the wild to walk 10 weeks for charity the length of the UK. Being "connected" is top of my prority list so I have up'd my giff gaff goody bag to the £20 "unlimited" or rather 6GB of data. I have an iphone 5 and about to purchase an ipad air 2 with wifi. I was therefore hoping to tether them together in order to get online using the ipad... So when it says on this page "Tethering is not permitted on goodybags that include unlimited internet" does this apply to the £20 goodybag, which technically is not actually unlimited? HELP! I am starting this charity walk soon and need to make sure I'm fully wifi'd up. Thank you.

maestro
@mazc70 - have a look at the link I posted in May which answers your question.

I think you would probably be better off getting the £18 goodybag and then starting the next one early if you run out of data.
newcomer

Thank you jpcjpc

 

Changing to an £18 / 6GB is what I'm trying to do... annoyingly I actually requested my new £20 "unlimited" goody bag just 12 hours before I realised that I couldn't then tether to that. And even though my old goody bag did not actually expire for another 12 hours - I could not find anyway to go back and reverse that decision and switch to the the £18 / 6GB.

 

Now I would be happy to loose the £20 I've just spent, so I can start the 6GB £18 now... but can't find any way to do that either. Other than to download movies relentessly for the next 7 days, trying to run the "unlimited" down so that I can then kick start the £18 early. 

 

Getting desperate as I fly to Scotland in 6 days now to start a solo 10 week charity walk and for many many reason I NEED to be able to tether my iphone to my ipad.  Any help you can provide would be very much appreciated.

 

Thanks

mazc70

maestro
@mazc70 - are you sure you have the unlimited goodybag and not the always on one? The unlimited goodybag is an old legacy product.

You can see which one in the My Giffgaff section of the website.

If you do have the always on goodybag you can tether for the first 6GB but if that's enough you can't start a new one because the data doesn't actually run out!

Best solution would be to contact an agent and ask if they can replace your goodybag with the £18 one.
newcomer

Thank you jpcjpc that is exactly what I wanted to hear. YES I have the "always on" - so confusing as seems to be referred to differently in different places, but that is definitely what I have. I don't care how long each goody bag lasts - whether I use up data and have to keep starting a new one eary - just so long as I can tether as I go.

 

Out of interest though, how do I actually contact an agent? Doesn't appear to be possible? 

 

Thank you again. Great help!