As with Windows Phone 7.x, Windows Phone 8 allows you to use your handset as a Wi-Fi hot-spot where you share your cellular data connection with up to 5 other devices. This capability is particularly compelling for those with access to high-speed 4G and LTE networks.
My own use of this Internet sharing capability—which is sometimes referred to as tethering—began with my purchase of the Nokia Lumia 900 in early 2012. This was a matter of timing: AT&T had finally upgraded to the superior LTE network, and the Lumia 900 was among the first Windows Phone handsets to support this capability. In November, I switched to an AT&T Mobile Share plan and added a second line for testing purposes.
The point here is that in addition to needing a phone that supports this capability, Internet sharing requires support from your mobile carrier as well. And they will typically charge for it, though of course the terms will vary from carrier to carrier. On my current plan, for example, I can share up to 4 GB of data each month.
Enabling and using Internet sharing couldn’t be easier.
On Windows Phone, navigate to Settings, System, Internet Sharing. This full-screen interface provides a toggle for enabling and disabling the feature on the fly plus controls for setting up the SSDI (broadcast name) and password (which I recommend) for the network.
You can connect up to five devices, including PCs, tablets, iPods, or anything else with a Wi-Fi connection. The connection appears just like any other Wi-Fi connection.
While Internet sharing is active, you will see an Internet sharing icon in the status bar at the top of the screen. (You may need to tap the area at the top of the screen to see this.)
Note: If you don’t see an Internet sharing item in Settings, System, then this feature is not supported by your carrier. Please contact that company for support.
In my experience with Internet sharing, this feature can kill your handset battery life pretty quickly. I recommend physically tethering it to a PC via USB, or, better yet, plugging it into a wall charger. (Indeed, Internet sharing will automatically disable if not used to save battery life.)
Tip: Most carriers offer a native app that lets you track your monthly usage, including shared data. AT&T excellent My AT&T app is a great example, but AT&T also will send text messages when you’re getting close to the limit. (Overages are simply charged on a surprisingly fair per-GB basis.)