Using Your iPad as a Hotspot for Work

By Galen Gruman

Most people think of using their iPad for work as a Wi-Fi hotspot or tether, acting as a way station to the Internet for devices that don’t have their own cellular connections. A hotspot — whether a smartphone or a separate device — connects to the Internet over a 3G or 4G cellular network and then lets other devices connect to it over Wi-Fi. That makes it a bridge between the two, providing Internet access to those Wi-Fi devices when no Wi-Fi network is nearby.

But hotspot devices, as well as tethering plans for smartphones, can be expensive. Some carriers allow for tethering as part of their data plans; others charge extra for the privilege.

An iPad can be a more cost-effective hotspot. A cellular iPad costs $130 more than a Wi-Fi-only mode, and data plans for a 4G (LTE) iPad are typically cheaper than what you’d pay for smartphone tethering or a separate hotspot device’s data plan. (Carriers typically charge as much for a 3G iPad’s tethering plan as they do for a smartphone’s tethering plan, so a 3G-only first- or second-generation iPad isn’t usually a good choice for use as a hotspot.)

Plus, if you don’t buy a subsidized iPad from your carrier, you can turn the iPad’s cellular data on or off, so you pay only for one month’s usage at a time. That’s great if you travel irregularly and need a hotspot only occasionally.

Because carrier plans vary so widely — and because there are often hidden charges, requirements, and limits — you need to investigate your hotspot options carefully to see whether the iPad approach is a better deal. In many cases, it is — even after factoring in the extra upfront cost of a cellular iPad model.

So, if you have a cellular iPad and want it to work as a hotspot, how do you do it? That’s easy:

  1. Go to the Settings app on your iPad.

  2. Tap Personal Hotspot to open the Personal Hotspot pane.

  3. Set the Personal Hotspot switch to On. Note the name in the text below the switch that your iPad will broadcast to other devices.

  4. Enter a password that other devices will need to connect to the iPad via Wi-Fi.

  5. On your other devices, connect to your iPad (using the name shown in the Personal Hotspot pane) via their Wi-Fi controls, and enter the password you established on the iPad.

    Some devices can connect to the iPad over Bluetooth as well, using their Bluetooth sharing controls. But note that Wi-Fi is much faster.)

    image0.jpg

As long as your iPad has a good cellular connection, the Personal Hotspot remains on, and those other devices remain wirelessly connected to the iPad, they can use the Internet. Just remember: The more devices you connect to the Internet through your iPad, the more you’re dividing up that Internet connection and thus reducing the available bandwidth for each device, slowing their access speed.