Hotspot vs. Tethering
Connecting smart devices to the Internet is possible through various technologies such as Wi-Fi, cable connection, satellite connection and mobile data connection. Two relatively new Internet sharing technologies are Tethering and Hotspot, which are considered the same because of their similarities but they are quite different. In this article, we explain these two technologies and their differences.
What is Tethering?
Tethering technology enables you to use your smart phone cellular data to connect your PC or any other smart devices to the Internet. Tethering technology uses network address translation (NAT) to share the Internet. The device you use as an Internet provider will have a public IP, while other devices connected to it will have private IPs. In other words, your mobile phone acts as a modem and provides Internet connection to other smart devices.
Tethering connection is possible through three different ways:
- USB Tethering: Tethering connection using the USB port is one of the fastest ways to connect to the Internet. This method uses less battery than other methods. But the point is that sharing the Internet via USB may require drivers, software, or customized settings. Also, the connection is provided only between two devices using a USB cable.
- Wi-Fi Tethering: The fastest and easiest way is using Wi-Fi tethering connection. This connection is easy to setup and use.
- Bluetooth Tethering: The third way is using Bluetooth technology to share mobile data which is more difficult and slower than other tethering connection methods.
What is Hotspot?
Hotspots are wireless access points using in public places to provide internet for people. Access point is a device connected to a router or gateway which provides internet connection in a specific area. Computers and smart phones can also be used as a hotspot.
In this technology up to 5 devices can be connected to one hotspot simultaneously and acts as a wireless internet connection. You can also use hotspot technology in private places. Using a router connected to mobile data or ADSL, you can share the Internet among smart devices in the house.
Software such as Connectify enables you to create a virtual hotspot without using any hardware. This method is similar to Wi-Fi Tethering and it is called Mobile Hotspot as well.
The differences between Tethering and Hotspot
- The first difference between these two technologies is that Hotspot is actually a physical access point connected to a router or gateway, while tethering is a connection between different devices such as smart phone, tablet, PC, etc.
- Accessibility is another difference between Tethering and Hotspot technologies. Hotspot technology (except Mobile Hotspot) is easily accessible on different devices, while Tethering technology needs driver or specific software to share internet connection and the number of devices simultaneously connected to tethering is limited.
- The internet speed required by these two technologies is also different. Tethering needs a high-speed internet connection but a hotspot can also be used with a normal connection.
- Battery life is longer in the tethering method and more economical than the hotspot method. On the other hand, the amount of data used by the hotspot is more than the tethering method.
- Security is one of the most important features of Network concept. Since Tethering uses USB port and Cable to connect two devices, it has more security comparing to other sharing methods. But because of the limitation on number of connected devices, wireless connection is more popular. Therefore, it is necessary to set strong WPA2 passwords.
- Tethering technology, in addition to the limitation on the number of connected devices, has other limitations such as incoming and outgoing calls, receiving and sending messages, etc. which makes it impossible to use it specifically as a device for establishing a wireless Internet connection.
In general, both these technologies are very popular, but since almost all devices are wireless, Hotspot is more useful than Tethering. USB tethering is a smart choice when you have a cable and you need high speed internet for only one device. Tethering cannot be considered as a permanent internet service and it is better to use Hotspot when you need a stable and permanent internet.