How to use Tethering & Portable Wi-Fi Hotspot

How to use Tethering & Portable Wi-Fi Hotspot

by kenlo on ‎23-04-2013 18:00 - last edited on ‎17-06-2014 15:44 by handy giff-staffer zobia22



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


There 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


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




Some Bluetooth-enabled devices

1 device



USB Cable

A laptop with relevant software installed

1 device


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


If 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


If 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.

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


You’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’.

  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


If 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.

by samwich
on ‎25-04-2013 22:26
Nor me. Smiley Embarassed Well, until I did as oldyorkie suggested. Smiley Wink
by samwich
on ‎25-04-2013 22:29
Though, looking at the link in more depth, it's only a tethered jailbreak anyway. Smiley Sad
by oldyorkie
‎25-04-2013 22:32 - edited ‎25-04-2013 22:36

yeah .... it's tethered .... each time you reboot you have to connect to your pc via cable and run ibooty ... not ideal - and to be honest ... it's a bit of a faff.

Note it only supports A4 devices or older too ..... iPhone 4s and iPhone 5 are not supported.

by shortylumber
on ‎25-04-2013 22:43
@yorkie yep tethered is a pain and not worth it in my opinion. still interesting to know it can be done on the a4 devices n before.
by chobchu
on ‎27-04-2013 11:48

I have just joining GiffGaff today and sent off for a sim card. This is the first thing I have read however when I looked at the Goody Bags only the £10 one, offering 1Gb/month data, allows you to tether your phone to another device. All other Goody Bags with unlimited date forbid tethering. This is an exceedingly good article about tethering a phone but is it useful when applied to giffgaff or have I missed something (quite likely for me which is why I ask)?

by mikemargetts
on ‎27-04-2013 18:19

Why is it that tethering is not available on iOS devices? My iPad has the capacity to act as a Wifi hotspot, but something about the settings for Giffgaff or perhaps the parent O2 network block it.  As others mention it is available with other providers.


As I see it there is no need for "jailbreaking" - just the right information / agreements from the providers.


Tethering using my Giffgaff SIM loaded with a £5 Gigabag worked fine in a ZTE MF60 mifi device as an alternative but it a nuisance to have to use a separate bit of kit.


by vorb
on ‎28-04-2013 07:49
I use my LG Optimus 2 as a MiFi with my Samba SIM. Works a treat. I hope with all the ground lost to Android Apple ease off on some of its stupid restrictions like tethering soon.
by chrispatch1
on ‎29-04-2013 01:55
Brilliant guide, thank you.
by sammypvt
on ‎29-04-2013 14:37

If I tether my phone using a 3gb gigabag, how much time will I get if I use the laptop connected to watch sky go tv programs. I caravan a lot and this would be a way to get sky sports in the absence of my tv and sky box but I cant figure how long the gigabag will last.

by samwich
on ‎29-04-2013 18:39

Hi sammypvt,


According to sky's forum: 


"... we estimate around 15MB for every 3 minutes of streaming so for a 90 minute match you are probably looking at about 450MB."

Malcolm-M. Sky Knowledge Advisor.


See here:


Hope that helps. Smiley Happy

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