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Windows Phone is becoming an increasing popular platform, but its initial release in 2010 baffled commentators by omitting key functionality such as copy and paste and tethering. Omitting these features arguably punished the platform, resulting in some poor early reviews. Making matters worse was the fact that devices from Samsung and LG had wired tethering functionality that could be enabled via a hidden engineer’s console, resulting in a platform offering tethering on some handsets but not others. Hardly ideal!
Microsoft has since resolved these shortcomings with the latest release of its successor to the clunky old Windows Mobile. Windows Phone 7.5 “Mango” is currently shipping on new devices from HTC, Nokia and Samsung and first generation devices can be upgraded to run this version of the software, which includes wireless tethering. This will enable you to share your mobile Internet connection with other devices.
Why the Big Deal?
News of this feature came late in the day (release day in fact!) thanks to Microsoft being cagey about some of the details of the Mango release. Despite being a much-requested function there was never any confirmation (although plenty of denials) that tethering of any kind would be included.
Fortunately for Windows Phone users, wireless tethering is now a possibility. The benefits of this are considerable. For instance, you might own a tablet, netbook or laptop and have no wireless functionality or access to any nearby wireless networks. Thanks to wireless tethering you can easily use your Windows Phone as a Wi-Fi router and connect to the Internet!
There are a couple of things to bear in mind, however. The first is that if your mobile phone contract does not have suitable Internet usage terms you could easily end up being billed for more than you can afford, so before proceeding, check the small print.
The second point to consider is that using wireless tethering can be quite draining on your mobile phone battery, so it is advised for only short-term use unless you are able to keep your Windows Phone charged.
Activating Internet Sharing
Microsoft’s inclusion of wireless tethering was done with so little fanfare that you might be forgiven for not realising that it is included on Windows Phone Mango. To get started using this function, you will need to open the Settings menu. This can be found on the Start screen and is also available by swiping left or tapping the arrow in the top-right corner of the screen.
With the Settings menu open, first scroll down to Mobile network to confirm that both Data connection and 3G connection are activated. You will need the 3G connection active if you are to have any hope of achieving fast mobile Internet! Enable these options by tapping the switches; when active they will be highlighted to match your phone’s current accent (the color of the tiles on your Start screen).
Tap the Back button on your phone to continue. You will now need to find the Internet sharing option in the Settings menu; a single tap of the switch in this screen will enable tethering.
By activating wireless tethering you will also activate your phone’s wireless function, which is one of the reasons why battery life is affected by this feature.
The Internet sharing screen will now display a few instructions, advising you that up to 5 guests can share your phone’s mobile Internet connection. A default broadcast name will be listed along with a password that you can use on any device that will be used to share the connection. The number of connected devices will also be listed.
Connecting To Your Windows Phone Wireless Hub
You don’t have to use the default options, however. By tapping the Setup button you can configure your own broadcast name by tapping into the field and overtyping the existing name; the same can be done with the password (a minimum of 8 characters is required) and you can also switch the Security type between Open and WPA2. Remember to tap the OK button when you’re done.
With the options set as required and Internet sharing activated you will now be able to connect to your phone as if it was a standard wireless hotspot. Any tablet, e-reader, laptop, netbook, even a desktop computer or another mobile phone can take advantage of your Windows Phone Wi-Fi hotspot by simply identifying the device’s broadcast name and entering the password.
Battery & Security Considerations
Despite the excellent flexibility that wireless tethering offers, there are obvious drawbacks. The first is with the battery life; the more users you allow to connect to your Windows Phone the more data will be processed and the greater reliance on both mobile Internet and Wi-Fi. You could end up with your phone’s battery being seriously drained in under an hour!
Although an open (password-free) connection is available as an option, this isn’t recommended unless you’re in a relatively remote area. The last thing you need – especially if you’re billed on mobile Internet data usage – is to be sharing your connection with unauthorized people.
Despite the battery issues, this is a welcome addition to Windows Phone, one that is quick and easy to use and is great for providing a much-needed Internet connection to other devices.
Let us know if you have any questions or problems setting it up.