No Internet? No Problem!

Hotspot Diagram

The library recently started loaning out T-Mobile Hotspots. We’re now able to extend our Internet offering to patrons outside the physical library. It’s a fantastic idea because some folks can’t afford an internet subscription and others can’t afford a broadband connection (which, let’s face it is the same as not having an internet subscription). I’ll admit, though, that at home use of the hotspot wasn’t something I initially thought of.

We purchased the hotspots thinking that folks staying in a hotel and don’t want to pay the $9.99/day charge to use the hotel’s internet connection can check out a hotspot and use that to connect to the internet. Or if folks have a cabin in the woods sans a connection, they can do the same. Of course the caveat there is the pesky disclaimer: “service not available in all areas”.

A hotspot works like a modem but instead of connecting to a wire (Ethernet, Coax, Fiber, etc) it connects to a cell tower on the backend. On the front end, you go into your wifi settings on your laptop, tablet, or smartphone and connect the hotspot.

  1. Device to Hotpot
  2. Hotspot to Cell Tower
  3. Cell Tower to Internet

It’s proving to be such a popular item that there are long waiting lists for them. If you didn’t request it soon enough, there’s a good chance that it won’t be available for your vacation. There is, however, a workaround: your smartphone. Most newer smartphones can act as hotspots. The connection process is the same but there are a couple of things to be aware of.

First, the data plan attached to our hotspots are a special non-profit pricing for unlimited data. This pricing isn’t available to private citizens, so don’t go cancelling your Fios or Xfinity account and buy a hotspot instead. It would end up costing you quite a bit more.

Second, is the  unlimited part. While unlimited data plans are quite common, they’re also a wee bit pricey. As a result not everyone has them. So before you use your cell as a hotspot, make sure you know how much data you’re allowed.

Ok. That said, here’s how to make your cell a hotspot.


1.) Tap Settings app

2.) Tap More under Data Usage

3.) Tap Tethering and portable hotspot

4.) Tap Portable Wi-Fi hotspot

5.) Tap Set up Wi-Fi hotpot

6.) Scroll to the bottom of the box and tap the box next to Show password

7.) Write down that password

8.) Tap Save

9.) Go to the device you want to connect the hotspot to

10.) Go to the Wireless Network Settings

11.) Tap the name of your phone 

12.) Type the password from step 7

13.) Tap Join


This menu sequence if for the iPhone 6

1.) Tap Settings

2.) Tap Personal Hotspot

3.) Tap the circle to the right of Personal Hotspot

3a.) If it’s not already on you’ll be prompted to turn on Wi-Fi

4.) Tap Wi-Fi Password and enter a suitable password (this can be any password you choose, it’s not related to your Apple ID or usual Wi-Fi connection).

5.) Go to the device you want to connect the hotspot to

6.) Go to the Wireless Network Settings

7.) Tap the name of your phone 

8.) Type the password from step 4

9.) Tap Join

Click here for a pdf version of this procedure (complete with screenshots!)




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