Today’s smartphones all use mobile internet over 3G or 4G. Laptops need an internet connection to use the net. Still, unfortunately, unless they come with the 3G capability built-in, they will need a dongle or another way of providing the internet for your laptop.
Tethering is the linking of your phone and a laptop or another device that needs internet access. It allows you to use your cellphone essentially like a modem, providing your internet connection for you to work. Some phones come ready to use with tethering, but others will need a software app to install, and in some cases, those apps require that the smartphone first be rooted.
Tethering can be using a USB cable or sometimes even Bluetooth. But more commonly today, it uses the phone’s WiFi chip to broadcast a network. The signal will never be incredibly strong, but as long as the phone is close to the laptop or whatever device you are trying to tether, it will work. Frequently the download speeds are slow, giving long waiting times even when trying to load a simple web page, but some networks are better-and any internet connection is often better than nothing.
Tethering is an incredibly useful feature. It means that you can access the internet on your laptop, being able to work far more quickly than working on the tiny screen of your smartphone itself. But certain cellular service providers want to see tethering banned or else limited to particular data plans that they can charge a higher rate.
There is no logical reason for charging more or banning tether as long as not used on an unlimited data plan. There would be the potential for abuse on an unlimited plan. A laptop could use a significantly more considerable amount of data in a short period than a smartphone could. Estimated normal data usage on an unlimited plan is decided based on a phone and not a laptop. In short, if too many people did this, then network congestion could become severe.
However, unlimited plans are becoming increasingly rare. There seems no reason to charge extra for the same amount of data just because of the convenience of tethering for those who are already on a metered or limited plan. Once the 4G network use, tethering will be even more attractive and faster, but once again, it is likely to be blocked unless you pay a premium rate for your data plan.
Ultimately, as long as you don’t go over your data allowance, there should be no problem with tethering. As long as your bills are paid on time and in full, your cellular service provider should have no right to tell you how to use your data allowance. Nor should they charge you more for data used over a tethered connection when compared to data used directly on the phone. As a user, the only thing you can do is make your opinion known by taking your business to a provider who will treat you more fairly.