Strange Smartphone Terms – What is Tethering?


Tech people use some strange terms, and tethering may be one of the weirdest. The uninitiated might think that tethering means tying up your phone to keep it safe, but the reality is a bit different. Tethering is actually a way to save on data costs, although some would say it goes against the spirit – if not the letter – of most carrier agreements.


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Tethering allows smartphone users to share their Internet connections with other devices, including tablets, laptops and desktop computers. Whether they attach their phones to a computer via the USB port, convert the phone into a Wi-Fi hotspot and router or share their data streams through Bluetooth, smartphone owners use tethering to overcome data limits and avoid extra charges.

USB tethering is probably the easiest method. USB tethering requires the installation of device drivers, but once the drivers are in place the phone can simply be plugged into a high-speed USB port. If your computer is relatively new, it probably has a high-speed port just waiting to be tethered to your phone. Once the phone is connected to the high-speed USB port, it is easy to turn the phone into a USB modem simply by using the computer’s connection manager.

Bluetooth tethering is another popular option for sharing a data connection. This tethering method pairs the computer and the phone and uses Wi-Fi signals to turn the smartphone into an instant hotspot.

While it might seem that tethering is fast and easy, it is important to note that this kind of data sharing violates many wireless carrier agreements. If you are thinking about tethering your phone, you need to read your agreement carefully. If the agreement you signed with your wireless carrier does not prohibit signal sharing, you can try tethering and see how it works. Otherwise, it is best to leave your smartphone untethered and use other options to connect to the Internet.

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