For AT&T users who upgraded their iPhone 4 to iOS 4.3, the new Wi-Fi hotspot tethering feature is now available. With this, users can use their iPhone’s 3G connection as an Internet resource for other devices. Connect it to your computer, iPad, iPod Touch, iPhone with a lower data plan, or any other Wi-Fi device.
Here are the steps to turn your iPhone into a personal hotspot.
Adding Hotspot to AT&T Account
First, the feature needs to be turned on with AT&T. This will cost you an extra $20 with a minimum data + connection fee of $45.
I went to a local AT&T dealer to turn on the feature. It was a mistake. Unfortunately the two nice ladies were not well trained and could not figure out how to open it. Still, most stores can help you. But if you don’t want to bother, just download myAT&T app Free from the App Store. It allows you to manage your account. One thing you can do is add this feature.
Sign in with your online username and password. Then go to “Properties”. There you will find the option “DataPro 4GB for iPhone Tethering”. This will add it to your account. It even warns you first, which I have to give credit to AT&T when it’s in their interest to change it without warning the user.
You will receive a text message from AT&T after the account change is made (see below right). Oddly enough, it looks like you’ll get it if you buy a new phone.
Set Up Personal Hotspot on iPhone
On iPhone, open Settings – the app with the gear icon. Go to ‘Public’, select ‘Network’, then tap ‘Personal Hotspot’. Make sure to turn Cellular Data ON (in blue) and add a password as seen in the first screenshot above. Don’t worry. After this guide is finished, I will be changing the password in the image.
That’s all it takes to open it. From then on, simply opening the settings will reveal a top-level menu item called Personal Hotspot.
Setting Up Wi-Fi-Enabled Devices
Now it’s as easy as connecting to iPhone’s Wi-Fi via your other Wi-Fi enabled device using the regular Wi-Fi connection interface. For example, on my iPad I went into Settings, Network and found my iPhone’s name, tapped on it and entered the passcode. When connected, instead of the regular Wi-Fi icon in the top left, there was what looked like two intertwined chain pods. That’s how you know you have a connection.
In my experience it is easy to use. Speed is as good as your 3G signal will allow. 3G is great for my home but a bit slow in other parts of our city. And the built-in Wi-Fi connections are smart enough not to use any of the other Wi-Fi signals you’ve saved to the device if it’s available.
Is it worth $45? This will depend on your circumstances. I was spending $30 for my unlimited data plan from AT&T and $60 for my MiFi 2200 and unlimited Verizon data plan. I checked my data usage for both and they didn’t go up to 4GB together. So I save $45 a month and only have to remember to pay one bill. Verizon Mi-Fi is being shut down and retails for around $20-30 on eBay.
Be sure to consider not only your normal monthly iPhone data usage, but also what you might be doing with other devices connected to it.