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Activating the personal hotspot on your smartphone lets you connect your computers and devices to the Internet using the cellular data connection on your device.  It’s easy to do and works on iPhone 3GS and later versions as well as most Android devices.

The key here is that you need an active data plan, as well as the tethering option added to that plan.  If you don’t have them, call your service provider to add them.  It’s also worth noting that if you are currently grandfathered in on AT&T’s “unlimited” data plan, you will need to switch to one of AT&T’s new data plans in order to use your phone as an Internet hotspot.  Below are instructions for turning either an iPhone or an Android smartphone into a mobile Internet hotspot.

For iOS 4.3 and on the iPhone 4:

Personal Hotspot iPhone 4/4S

  1. Tap the “Settings” icon, then tap “General,” and then “Network.”
  2. Halfway down the screen, you will see the “Personal Hotspot” button.  To start up your personal hotspot, slide the “Personal Hotspot” slider to “On.”
  3. The password is what you will need to connect to your hotspot via WiFi.  If you want to change that password, tap the password field and edit it on the next screen.
  4. By default, “Personal Hotspot” is set to allow connections over USB only.  If you want to allow wireless connections, change the settings to turn on WiFi and Bluetooth.
  5. When other devices are connected to your Personal Hotspot, you’ll see a message in blue at the top of the screen indicating that the hotspot is active and how many users are connected.
  6. Now that your Personal Hotspot has been set up, when you want to turn it on the in the future, simply tap the Settings icon and you’ll find a new Personal Hotspot menu item at the top of the screen, just under Airplane Mode and WiFi.

For iOS 6 and on the iPhone 5 with iOS 6, the Personal Hotspot is a little easier to find and it’s also speedier (provided you’re on 4G LTE).  Because the iPhone 5 can handle 4G LTE, it can offer speeds up to 10 times faster than 3G service on the iPhone 4S, which makes tethering even more attractive.

For iOS 6 and on the iPhone 5:

Personal Hotspot iPhone 5/iOS 6

  1. Tap on “Settings,” then “General,” then tap on “Cellular.”
  2. Tap on “Personal Hotspot” and slide it to “On.”
  3. If you want to change that password, tap the password field and edit it on the next screen.
  4. Again, after you set this up once, a shortcut is placed below the Bluetooth setting on general settings.

For Android devices, as with the iPhone, activating your personal hotspot will only work if it’s included in your wireless plan.  Activating the hotspot may differ slightly on depending on your Android phone.

For Android:

Personal Hotspot Android

  1. Go to the Settings screen on your Android phone. (To get there, tap the menu button on your home screen or “Applications”, then tap “Settings”)
  2. At the Settings screen, tap the “Wireless & networks” option (or “More” and then “Portable Hotspot”)
  3.  Click the check mark next to “Portable Wi-Fi hotspot” and you should be good to go.  You should see a message in the notification bar when it is activated.
  4. To adjust and check the settings for the hotspot, tap the “Portable Wi-Fi hotspot settings” option. Here you can see and change your default password, security level, router name (SSID), and also manage users connected wirelessly to your phone in the Wi-Fi hotspot settings.

And that’s it! Hope this helps get your personal hotspot going!

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