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What Is a WiFi® Phone Hotspot?

Felicia Dye
Felicia Dye

A WiFi® phone hotspot refers to technology that allows a device to connect to the Internet by way of a cellphone. This capability is made possible using the cellphone's broadband service and special software. The device that an individual wishes to connect to the Internet must have WiFi® capability, and the user generally must have a password. A single WiFi® phone hotspot can generally accommodate several devices simultaneously.

If a WiFi® phone hotspot is to work, a person generally needs broadband cellular service. She will also need to download special software to her phone if this was not done before she purchased it. Also, to be able to connect another device to the Internet in this way, both the cellphone and the device that an individual wants to use must have WiFi® capability. A device, such as laptop, does not have to have built-in WiFi®. It is possible to plug a wireless adapter into the laptop, which will give it WiFi® capability.

Some people use a mobile hotspot when on the road.
Some people use a mobile hotspot when on the road.

Before the introduction of WiFi® phone hotspots, it was possible to use a cellphone as a modem to connect another device to the Internet. This was done either by using a cable to connect the cellphone to the device or using Bluetooth technology. The WiFi® phone hotspot is not only a newer method, but one that is considered easier because the setup for Bluetooth connections are often found to be more difficult and a cable connection can be rendered useless if the cable is forgotten or damaged.

A WiFi® phone hotspot generally allows multiple devices to connect to the cellphone simultaneously. This means several people with different devices can use a single cellphone to access the Internet at once. Access to the connection is usually password protected. This allows the cellphone owner control over who accesses her connection. This can be important, because a person generally has a limited amount of information that she can download for a given price.

A problem with some WiFi® phone hotspots is that they are limited to either voice or data connections at a given moment. Voice connections are generally given preference. This means that when a person uses his cellphone to allow another device to access the Internet, the connection is lost if he receives a phone call. Whether a user will be subjected to this limitation depends on the type of mobile broadband technology that his service provider uses.

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Discussion Comments


Does anyone know if there are security features you can add to your phone for when you access the Internet from a public WiFi phone hotspot?

I have some security programs on my laptop to stop people from sniffing for information on my computer when I am using a public hotspot but it seems like my phone is quite vulnerable to having information stolen. I keep banking information, personal information and a lot of work

information on my phone so I don't feel comfortable using it on unsecured networks. I hope there is a solution for this because free WiFi is much better than my cell phone company's data plan.


@manykitties2 - You shouldn't be charged for using free WiFi hotspots as you aren't using your phones data plan. Now the problem comes if you don't turn off all of the Internet connection features on your phone before using your WiFi.

I know with my phone company that I am always getting fees for data usage if I forget to turn off things like my data roaming and 3G. You would be surprised at the number of things on your phone that try and access your data plan. It can really add up if you aren't really careful, as I am sure you already know.


Do you automatically get charged by your cell phone company for data even if you are using a free WiFi phone hotspot?

I recently got a smartphone with WiFi capability and want to be able to surf the net for free when I visit my local coffee shops. I generally don't watch videos online but prefer just to access social networking and check my e-mail. Of course I do some general surfing online as well.

Right now I have a very small data plan so I want to make sure I don't go over it because it gets quite expensive if I do. My cell phone company really gets me coming and going.

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    • Some people use a mobile hotspot when on the road.
      By: witthaya
      Some people use a mobile hotspot when on the road.