Tethering vs Hotspot: Which One Is Best For Remote Work?

Date Feb 5, 2021
Blog category Mobile Phone
By Staff Writer

Today, almost everything is done on the go. Now that nearly everyone in the world has adjusted to the new normal, we can safely say that remote work is here to stay. From engineers to sales and support teams, everyone needs a flexible connectivity solution and a reliable internet to get our business going, wherever.

Thanks to modern technology, sharing internet over devices is now possible with tethering and mobile hotspot.

Perhaps one of the most common questions internet users have is the difference between the two. While both are great features you can use to get a faster mobile connection, there are a few key differences you need to know to make sure you're making the most of your mobile plan.

What is Tethering?

Tethering is physically connecting a mobile phone to a laptop using a USB cable to connect to the internet. You can also use Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, or USB to tether your phone. Tethering allows one device to share its internet connection with another.

Today, almost if not all modern phones' operating systems have a tethering function. To share internet, tethering uses network address translation (NAT). The device sharing the internet has public IP, while other devices connected through tether have private IPs.

USB tethering: Tethering over USB is fast and has low battery consumption, but may require some driver or software or configuration to share internet.

Wi-Fi tethering: Quick and easy to set up, Wi-Fi tethering is considered the most popular way of sharing internet. It's also known as mobile hotspot.

Bluetooth tethering: Unlike USB and Wi-Fi tethering, Bluetooth tethering isn't often used as it can be challenging to set up and speed is slower.


What is Hotspot?

Hotspots are the wireless access points we connect to at public places such as malls to use the internet on our devices. These access points are typical devices connected to a router or gateway. These points provide internet Wi-Fi connectivity within a specific range of areas. Other devices that can act as hotspots are laptops, computers, and smartphones.

NOTE: If internet tethering is done via Wi-Fi, it is also known as a mobile hotspot. Unlike tethering via Bluetooth or from a USB, all you have to do is turn on the Wi-Fi hotspot feature on your phone to share your internet with others. Up to 5 devices can connect to your device, and you can set it to public or one that requires a password to connect.

What's the difference between hotspot and tethering?

It can get confusing, so let's clear this out. Tethering refers to tethering or linking your phone to the computer through USB to act as a USB modem, while hotspot is the act of creating a Wi-Fi network where the phone acts as a modem/router.

Mobile hotspot is the most widely-spread approach to tethering. It is easy to set up, and the presence of Wi-Fi modules on most devices require no extra components.

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Tethering or Hotspot? Which one should I pick?

While both are popular for accessing and sharing internet, hotspot is preferred, mainly because almost every device today has a Wi-Fi hotspot and it's a lot easier to set up.

But if you want a fast and more reliable connection and only need to tether one device, you can opt for USB tethering.

Here's a simple guide to help you decide:

Tethering Hotspot
A connection between devices (smartphones, laptops, etc.) A physical access point which is a device connected to a router or a gateway
May require software or driver for connection sharing and is limited to few devices Can be accessed by multiple devices easily 
Requires high-speed connection Requires medium to high-speed internet connection
Cheaper and lower battery consumption Uses more battery
Uses a fair amount of data High consumption of data compared to tethering

Whether you prefer tethering or hotspot, make sure you have an unlimited mobile plan for reliable internet wherever you go!

Compare the best mobile plans from leading NZ providers using our comparison tool, right here at CompareBear.