Cawifi-300x2071.jpgn’t find a hotspot?

In a taxi and need to download a presentation before you reach your destination? At the airport and can’t seem to stay connected to the public wifi? Why not be your own personal hotspot? A hotspot is a place that offers internet access over a wireless network connected by router to an internet service provider. Hotspots are usually WiFi.

History of the “hotspot”

Public access wireless local area networks (LANs) were first proposed by Henrik Sjödin in August 1993. Stewart did not use the term hotspot but referred to it as publicly accessible wireless LANs.1

During the dot-com period in 2000, dozens of companies had the notion that Wi-Fi could become the payphone for broadband and users would pay for access at hotspots. The public can now use a laptop, Wi-Fi phone, or other suitable portable device to access the wireless connection provided.

Hotspots are often found at restaurants, train stations, airports, military bases, libraries, hotels, hospitals, coffee shops, bookstores, fuel stations, department stores, supermarkets and other public places. Many universities and schools also have wireless networks in their campus. But suppose you cannot get to one of these public places or you don’t want to have an unsecure connection?

What is a personal hotspot?
Verizon's personal hotspot feature for iPhone

A personal hotspot is an Apple feature that allows a mobile internet connection for use by other devices. The benefit of a personal hotspot is that it enables Internet sharingusing the nearly ubiquitous WiFi wireless technology. Any device that has a WiFi radio can access a personal hotspot, once it is configured. 2 Personal Hotspot replaces and expands the tethering feature introduced on AT&T iPhones with iOS 4. All personal hotspots limit the number of simultaneous connections that it supports, and usually that number is five devices, although AT&T limits it to 3. There are a number of reasons for this constraint, ranging from performance to the fact that the carriers want to limit the number of devices that use the same connection to their network. 3

How to Use a Personal Hotspot on iPhone 4

  1. use personal Hotspot for the first time, go to Settings > General > Network > Personal Hotspot.
  2. Turn on Personal Hotspot by tapping once on the On/Off button. You will be prompted to enter a Wi-Fi password.
  3. After entering the password hit Done. Next you will be asked how do you want to share the internet access. If the Wi-Fi or Bluetooth radio are Off they will be turned on automatically.
  4. Choose Wi-Fi and USB only. Your iPhone will broadcast a Wi-Fi network with the password you select and the name of the network is same as that of your iPhone.
  5. Next, go to any wireless device like your iPod Touch or laptop and look for networks. Once connected, the iPhone will display a blue status bar showing how many devices are connected.
  6. If you aren’t on a GSM network the hotspot will stop when you make or receive a phone call. However, once the call is over everything resumes just like the call never took place. 4

Advantages and Disadvantages of a Personal Hotspot

  • You can connect devices to the Internet wherever you have a cellular signal. In some cases, this is a matter of financial savings as much as it is one of convenience: iPad users who also own a hotspot-capable iPhone, could save cash—both at the point of purchase by going with the Wi-Fi-only version of the iPad, and then again by avoiding the monthly fees associated with a separate cellular data plan.
  • There is also the convenience of being able to rely on a single device for an increasing number of functions. Today, mobile hotspots are provided by dedicated products, like the MiFi, that have to be lugged around, bringing with them their attendant power cables, battery packs, and so on. Rolling that functionality into a single product will lighten pockets, reduce the amount of paraphernalia that needs to be carried around, and increase convenience especially when on a business trip.5
  • One of the biggest disadvantages is that using the iPhone as a personal hotspot significantly decreases the battery life. Wi-Fi hotspots are power hungry and don’t go easy on our batteries.
  • It also isn’t free. There is a monthly cost for having your own personal hotspot through your phone. This service costs $20 through Verizon and $20 plus tethering to equal $45 through AT&T. 6
  • From a technical perspective, a rise in personal mobile hotspots can lead to an increase in airwave congestion. Wi-Fi operates on radio frequencies that are publicly accessible—something that is not currently a problem as access points are usually far enough apart not to interfere with one another. In a future where everyone has a wireless access point in their pockets, public places that attract large crowds will become literally infested with radio signals vying for the relatively narrow band in which they are legally allowed to operate.

Other Portable Hotspots

Clear Wireless Router
necting to the internet through cellular data services not for you? Don't worry, there are many different suggestions for portable hotspots. If you don’t want to go through your cellular data services, there are companies that have travel routers that you can take anywhere and connect to the internet. Clear Wireless Internet provides the router as well as the service. Verizon also has a MiFi router as well as Virgin Mobil, and you can purchase data services through them as well. If you want to just buy a router, there are several companies who produce them and you can figure out what service works best for you.


1. Wi-Fi Timeline
2. What is a Personal Hotspot?
3. What is the difference between internet tethering and Personal Hotspot for iPhone?
4. How to Use a Personal Hotspot on iPhone 4
5. Making sense of the iPhone and hotspots
6. Using the Personal Hotspot on your Verizon iPhone