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A mobile hotspot is when you use your cell phone (or a mobile hotspot device) to connect other wireless devices to the internet.
When tethering your device to your cell phone it uses your mobile data allowance and can use less than 1MB to over 800MB per hour, depending on what activities you're using it for.
In this guide we've broken down how much data a hotspot uses, the cost of hotspot use, and how to keep a check on your mobile hotspot data usage to avoid expensive charges.
Hotspot data usage
The hotspot data usage is associated with the wireless activity you're using the tethered device for.
Checking your emails can use less than 1MB an hour, whereas browsing the internet could be around 60MB per hour.
So if you're wondering how much data a laptop uses on a hotspot when you're tethering, it depends on the task, not the mobile device being used.
What uses phone data?
There're a number of things that use data including;
Streaming movies and tv shows
Downloading media and apps
Sending and receiving email
Using social media apps
How much mobile data do I use?
The hotspot usage depends on the activity you're using the device for. Here are a few popular tasks and how much data it uses per hour;
Emails - Less than 1MB
Browsing the internet - Around 60MB
YouTube - Around 300MB
Instagram - Around 720MB
Zoom - Around 810MB
How to track your mobile hotspot usage
Most cell phone carriers offer an online account or an app that you can log in to track your mobile hotspot usage.
Going over your data allowance could cause slow hotspot speeds or additional hotspot charges.
Mobile hotspot data limits
Many cell phone plans will have a set limit of mobile data that is available to use as mobile hotspot data.
With an unlimited data plan, you won't be allowed unlimited tethering. However, they'll be a set hotspot limit or they may reduce the speed.
The data amount will vary, but overall it's normally not enough to be used for home internet or anything with heavy internet use.
Do mobile hotspots cost money?
Mobile hotspots use your cell phone's data allowance when you don't have a Wifi connection. So it's normally combined into the cost of your monthly cell phone bill.
Some low-cost carriers offer a set amount of high-speed data specifically for personal hotspot data usage. So if hotspot allowance is important to you these plans could be worth checking out.
It's worth estimating your monthly usage to find out exactly how much data you'll need from a hotspot plan.
Although personal hotspot costs are not normally extra, they can drain your mobile data if you're trying to utilize it for heavy use.
Depending on your cell phone plan you'll need to make sure your phone is hotspot enabled.
But as long as your plan has a hotspot allowance and your device is enabled, it won't cost you extra.
Many plans offer hotspot usage that comes out of your mobile data allowance, or some provide a specific high-speed data allowance just for hotspot use.
Using a mobile hotspot to tether to other devices can be helpful in the short run, but it's not ideal for heavy data use or a replacement for fast home internet speeds.