How to Turn an iPhone Into a Personal Hotspot (AT&T only)

For AT&T users who have upgraded to iOS 4.3 on their iPhone 4, the new Wi-Fi hotspot tethering feature is now available. With it, users can use their iPhone’s 3G connection as an Internet source for other devices. Hook it up to your computer, iPad, iPod Touch, an iPhone with a lower data plan, or any other Wi-Fi device.

Here are the steps to turn your iPhone into a personal hotspot.

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Adding Hotspot to AT&T Account

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First, the feature has to be turned on with AT&T. This is going to cost you an extra $20 with the minimum data+tethering charge being $45.

I went to a local AT&T reseller to get the feature turned on. That was a mistake. The two nice ladies sadly were not well trained and couldn’t figure out how to turn it on. Most stores should be able to help you though. But if you don’t want the hassle, just download the myAT&T app for free from the App store. It lets you manage your account. One thing you can do is add this feature.

Log in with your online user name and password. Then go to “Features”. There you will find the option for “DataPro 4GB for iPhone Tethering”. This will add it to your account. One warning: people grandfathered into the unlimited plan that was available before the iPhone 4 will lose it. It even warns you first, which I have to give credit to AT&T for doing this when it is in their best interest to change this without warning the user.

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Once the account change goes through you will get a text message from AT&T (see below right). Strangely, it looks like one you would get if you just bought a new phone.

Setting Up Personal Hotspot on iPhone

Open Settings on the iPhone – the app with the gears icon. Go to ‘General, select  ‘Network’ and then tap on ‘Personal Hotspot’. Make sure to turn Cellular Data ON (in blue) and add a password as seen in the first screen shot above. Don’t worry. I will be changing the password in the image after this guide is finished.

That is all there is to turning it on. From then on, just opening settings will show a top level menu item called Personal Hotspot.

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Setting Up Wi-Fi Enabled Devices

Now it is as easy as connecting to the iPhone’s Wi-Fi through your other Wi-Fi enabled device using the normal Wi-Fi connection interface. For example, on my iPad I went into Settings, Network and found the name of my iPhone, tapped on it and entered the password. When it connected, instead of the normal Wi-Fi icon in the upper left, there was what looks like two chain links intertwined. That’s how you know you have a connection.

Conclusion

In my experience it is easy to use. The speed is as good as your 3G signal allows. For my house 3G is great, but other parts of our town it is a little slow. And the internal Wi-Fi connections are smart enough to not use it if one of other Wi-Fi signals you have saved on the device is present.

Is it worth $45? That will depend on your circumstances. I was spending $30 on my unlimited data plan from AT&T and $60 on my unlimited Verizon data plan with a MiFi 2200. I checked my data usage for both and together it did not add up to 4GB. So I’m saving $45/month and only having to remember to pay one bill. The Verizon Mi-Fi is getting turned off and sold on eBay for about $20-$30.

Remember to factor not just your normal monthly iPhone data usage but what you might be doing with other devices tethered to it.

Comments

    • Jessica says

      Just click the home button and the button on the top right of your apple device at the same time for about one second and it will do a screenshot on your apple device!

    • Joe says

      just press the home button and sleep button together to screen capture =D it will automatically save into ur Photo Album..

    • SKASSIS says

      just press the SLEEP and HOME button at the same time. then go check your camera app pictures area. your capture will show up as the first (last) photo in your album.

  1. Alan says

    Wow, I can’t believe how much you folks have to pay! I’ve been using this on my Android phone for months now and I only pay £5/mo (~$7.50} for 300 cross-network min, 300 texts, unlimited landline calls and 3GB of data. This is on a SIM only tariff and we pay slightly higher prices for buying the phone SIM free, but still seems MUCH cheaper! (and it’s not often someone in the UK gets to say that about technology!)

  2. Keith93611 says

    Thanks for the post, I thin AT&T needs to pony up for there long time customers that have unlimited Data plans. I will be looking at other carriers when my contracts are up in a few months….. My other option is to jail brake my phone and get it for FREE

    • maryzilko says

      I totally agree. How do they screw their long term, faithful customers? Something wrong with that picture! I will also be looking to change services.

  3. sjn says

    Make sure when you switch to the $45 plan, that you ask for it WITH visual voice mail – there are two options, one with visual voice mail and one without.

  4. Dan Angel says

    Does it work with the 3G iPhone? And I’m guessing that is a monthly charge, not a one time purchase price, right?

  5. iPhone Applications says

    Apple is trying to restrict the access to a function of the software providers to enrich the cell, but still a disappointment that the idea of ​​letting the data on my iPhone is somewhat different from data received directly on my iPhone.

  6. Anonymous says

    Can I just add the iPhone 2GB enterprise feature, rather than 4GB?Also, will this work on a 3GS iPhone?

  7. Guest says

    ahh with minimal hacking its all free and easy non ad-hoc wifi tethering on android :) sorry you don’t get that freedom with Apple :(

  8. AllYourBaseAreBelongToUs says

    why do people bash apple products just because they have android… i have android and love apple products and can’t wait to get an iphone. the only version of android that actually works is the stock android. all the carriers and phone manufacturers just load all their crap on their phones (like windows machines in the past) and use up all the great hardware anyways. only people who have no lives outside of their digital lives have the time to sit around and f*ck with their phones all day to root them and install new roms and get paid apps for free. fail. can’t wait to switch to an iphone i would gladly pay the extra money to have a hassle free experience as i did when i switched to mac from pc. 

  9. Wsteudel says

    I have an Android HTC G2 with T Mobile, and don’t pay extra for Wifi hotspot beyond the dataplan. It is a 4G network, and therefore, very fast ( e.g. with my iPad 2). However, I was wondering if someone ever unllocked an iPhone 4(s) and used it with T-Mobile ? I would consider this for my wife who does not necessarily need a hotspot, but would like to trade her Blackberry with an iPhone, but for the reason above, I dont want to change to another carrier ?

  10. Notrude says

    T mobil should be getting the iPhone 5 when it comes out, at least those are the rumors

  11. spk1982Sean says

    Just wanted to say thanks–this was really helpful. I did wince a bit when I had to give up my unlimited data plan, but it is only $10 more per GB over plan (now $50 for 5GB per billing cycle).

  12. ConcreteRose says

    I pop my iphone SIM card into my Nexus phone if I need to use the tethering feature. It’s not often that I need the feature but on the rare occasion I need to tether it’s a simple switch and I’m able to acces the tethering feature without issue. No provider dictating when and where or how much. Somewhat of a workaround but it doesn’t cost me any more money and I still have my data unlimited plan with AT&T. Not a big data user so I’ve never be throttled, which I hear will happen over 2G.

  13. carrierssuck says

    Yeah, funny how AT&T throttles “unlimited data.” Doesn’t that automatically place a limit on it?

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