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They fit neatly into the USB port for a compact, portable internet connection.
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Unlike the sort that involves horses, tethering is a way to transform your smartphone into a mobile hotspot or WiFi router. When you switch on the tethering feature in your phone, you'll create a local wireless internet connection.
You can then use this connection to link your tablet, laptop or PC to the internet. Almost every smartphone these days lets you tether via WiFi. When you turn on tethering, you're creating a WiFi hotspot that'll show up in the list of available networks on your device. Rather like a portable router. Connecting your device through WiFi will give you a quicker speed than Bluetooth, and a USB connection is even faster.
Since so many of us have an insatiable appetite for staying connected, many public places now offer customers free wireless broadband. As a result, you're likely to find a WiFi hotspot at local pubs, restaurants, shops, train stations, airports and more locations besides. To hunt down a hotspot, you'll need to enable WiFi on your device, whether that's a smartphone, laptop, tablet or console.
It'll then reveal a list of the available networks; concentrate on those that let you connect without entering a password - usually from BT, O2, Sky -owned The Cloud, Virgin Media or the name of your location Library of Birmingham WiFi, for example. Once you've found one, click on it and then you'll either be asked to register or check a box to connect. After doing so, you should then see the reassuring WiFi symbol that signals you're online.
BT offers broadband and mobile customers along with Vodafone and EE customers free access to a not-too-shabby five million WiFi hotspots. Non-BT customers can use them, too, but will have to pay.
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Allowances range from as little as one hour to a year-long contract. You'll usually find BT WiFi in hotels, shopping centres, cafes, department stores, service stations and converted payphone booths. The generous folk at O2 offer free WiFi hotspots to all - as long as you don't download more than 10GB a month unless you're an O2 customer, in which case, knock yourself out.
Non-Sky customers will still be able to connect for free most of the time, though may be given a time limit. Sky even has a nifty app, the Hotspot Finder, which you can download to locate the nearest WiFi hotspots.
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Access is free for all Virgin broadband and mobile customers. If you found this article helpful, take a look at our full list of broadband guides and advise we have available. How fast is MiFi?
How do I set up a portable hotspot? When you're getting a new phone contract, your first port of call is usually to browse deals on a comparison website, like our mobile site. When you click on a deal that looks good, you'll be sent in one of two directions: either to a mobile network like Vodafone or Three , or to a reseller like BuyMobiles.
What’s a mobile phone reseller?
So what's the difference? And are these reseller thingies any good? A mobile phone reseller is a company that offers mobile deals. Exact business models vary from company to company, but the general gist of it is this:. A reseller buys new handsets from a network wholesale or takes on refurbished ones - good-as-new phones that have been sent back or sold on by their last owner.
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The reseller then sells on those phones, complete with a contract from the network in this case, to customers at a reduced price. The cost to you is much lower because the reseller got its hands on the phones cheaply. Here are some of our favourite resellers, and the best deals you can find from them. Take your pick, and explore our mobile site for more reseller deals on the handset you want. As the largest independently-owned mobile phone retailer, Buymobiles. It's won awards for 'best online retailer', for a start. Since different stores are able to implement different guidelines about their promotions, you'll certainly find deals on this site that aren't on any of the others.
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You've probably heard of Carphone Warehouse - it's one of the biggest phone resellers in the country, and one of the few with high street stores. It's been around since , back when carphones really were for sale, and despite spreading all over the UK its headquarters are still in London where it began. Carphone Warehouse is also where you'll find the Geek Squad to deal with all your mobile phone repair, tech support, and insurance needs.
It has slightly different rules about promotions too, so you're likely to find different deals through its site. Launched in , it's the UK's longest running online mobile shop - and another winner of 'best online retailer' awards. When you take out a mobile phone contract on a particular network through a reseller, you're getting service from that network - it's a real contract that it will abide to, exactly the same as if you'd gone and got a deal directly.
That includes customer service and all the same perks the network offers. For example, let's say you got an iPhone XS on O2 through a reseller.