Difference Between Tethering and Hotspot

Tethering vs Hotspot
 

Tethering and Hotspot are terms that are frequently confused by many people, but it shouldn’t be, if one clearly understand the difference between tethering and hotspot. Both, Tethering and Hotspot, are terms related to networking. Connecting one device to another is simply called tethering. Hence, connecting two devices together using Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, or USB can be called tethering. Tethering allows sharing of internet connection of one device to another. Hotspot, on the other hand, is specific only to Wi-Fi. A hotspot is a place that provides internet access to wireless devices using a device known as an access point. Access point is a special device connected to a router, but even a laptop or a mobile phone can be converted to an access point to create what is known as a mobile hotspot. Mobile hotspot is same as Wi-Fi tethering.

What is Tethering?

Connecting one device to another is called tethering. For example, connecting a mobile phone to a laptop using a USB cable simply can be called tethering. Tethering can be done using different media such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth or USB. Tethering usually allows sharing of internet connection of one device to another. All modern mobile phone operating systems have tethering capability to share internet. Windows, Android and iOS have built-in features to allow tethering over USB, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. When internet tethering is done via Wi-Fi, it is also known as a mobile hotspot.

Wi-Fi tethering, also known as mobile hotspot, is the easiest and the widely used one among the most common tethering methods. It is very easy to setup, and the presence of Wi-Fi modules on most devices makes it require no extra components.

Tethering via Bluetooth is bit difficult to setup and also the speed is obviously less than Wi-Fi. So nowadays Bluetooth tethering is not much used, but before Wi-Fi became famous, this was widely used.

Tethering over USB is very fast and power consumption issue is not there as the device can be charged over USB, but not many devices support this USB tethering capability. Also, it will need special drivers or software on both sides and probably some configuration stuff.

Tethering usually uses NAT (Network Address Translation) to share internet. So here, only the device that is connected to the internet (one which its internet connection is shared) has a pubic IP. Other devices connected by tethering have private IPs and the technique called NAT is used to identify different devices from the point of view of the single public IP.

Difference Between Tethering and Hotspot

What is Hotspot?

A hotspot is a place that provides internet access using Wi-Fi. A hotspot is created using a device known as an access point. In general use, both hotspot and access point can mean the same thing. An access point is typically a device that is connected to a router or a gateway, which is connected to the internet. The access point lets various devices to connect to it using Wi-Fi and provides them internet through the router that it is connected to. In modern wireless routers, the router and the access point is integrated into one single device.

Wi-Fi hotspots are found in public places as well as private places. Today many public places in the world such as airports, stores, restaurants, hotels, hospitals, libraries, public payphones, train stations, schools and universities have hotspots. Many provide free access to the internet while there are commercial ones , as well. Hotspots can be setup at home as well by simply connecting a wireless router to the internet via ADSL or 3G. This is the most common technique used nowadays to share the internet connection at home across various devices.

Apart from hardware, nowadays, software as well can create hotspots. Software such as connectify me, Virtual Router and also built-in tools in operating systems let you share internet by turning the Wi-Fi module on your laptop or mobile phone into a virtual hotspot. This is also known as a mobile hotspot and this is same as Wi-Fi tethering.

What is the difference between Tethering and Hotspot?

• Tethering means connecting one device to another using medium such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, or USB mainly to share internet of one device to another. Hotspot is a place that provides internet to wireless devices using a device known as an access point.

• Tethering is a more general term as connection can be done in any media such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and USB, but hotspot is usually limited to Wi-Fi.

• Wi-Fi tethering is also known as mobile hotspot. A mobile hotspot is created by using software where a device such as mobile phone is converted to a virtual access point. So mobile hotspot is a branch of tethering.

• A hotspot, which is not a mobile hotspot, involves a special device known as an access point , which is connected to the router . Generally , tethering refers to the connection between devices such as phones, laptops , and computers, but not physical network devices such as access points, routers.

• A hotspot (not mobile hotspot) can provide internet to a lot of devices at once as it is specially designed for that purpose. On the other hand, tethering can provide internet to only few devices at once.

Summary:

Tethering vs Hotspot

Tethering generally refers to connecting one device to another using medium such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and USB mainly to share internet. Hotspot, on the other hand, is a place that provides internet to wireless devices using a device known as an access point. When a mobile phone or a laptop is converted into a virtual access point, it is known as mobile hotspot and this is exactly same as Wi-Fi tethering. When connectivity technology is considered, tethering is more general as it can be across Wi-Fi, Bluetooth or USB while hotspots are limited to Wi-Fi. Hotspots (not mobile hotspots) are especially for providing internet connections to a large number of devices hence include special network equipment, but tethering uses no such devices hence limited to a few connections.