Hotspot tethering works by utilizing the data network of a mobile device. The device uses its on-board Wi-Fi chip to create a Wi-Fi network. The device then pairs the mobile network with the Wi-Fi broadcast. The result is an Internet-enabled hotspot that multiple devices can connect to.
Fixed Wi-Fi hotspots work in a very similar way, but these are connected directly to an Internet-enabled network — usually a wired broadband connection. The network is broadcast from a Wi-Fi antenna, and this creates the hotspot. Typically, any device with a working Wi-Fi antenna can connect to a hotspot. The hotspot broadcasts a Wi-Fi network within the local area, usually no more than 200 meters from the hotspot itself. Hotspots have been gaining in popularity with the likes of BSkyB and Verizon utilizing them to provide inclusive Wi-Fi to customers even in remote areas.
Fixed hotspots are typically faster and much more cost effective than mobile hotspots. However, 4G and later networks are offering faster speeds by the day. A mobile network can now reach over 15 Mb/s transfer speed, which is faster than many home broadband connections. A larger quantity of devices can connect to a fixed hotspot — this is one of the largest benefits to the technology. Hotspot technology has been popular and effective for many years now with T-mobile first adopting it in 2001.