If you own a the third generation iPad with cellular data, you can share your Internet connection with other devices thanks to the Personal Hotspot feature. The iPad’s software creates a wireless access point, allowing any device with Wi-Fi to connect and use the iPad’s cellular data connection to connect to the Internet.
Personal Hotspot is available on the third generation iPad and newer. Owners of the cellular-capable original iPad and iPad 2 will not be able to use the feature to create hotspots. While the feature was first launched in 2011, iPads did not gain this functionality until the third generation iPad launched in 2012. Any device regardless of type or operating system can connect to Personal Hotspot as long as the device supports Wi-Fi connectivity.
Uses and Cost
Sharing an Internet connection is useful in situations where a Wi-Fi hotspot is not available and the device does not support cellular data natively. Because Personal Hotspot uses a Wi-Fi connection, these devices will not require any additional peripherals -- a cellular modem, for example -- to connect to the Internet. Some standard iPad data plans do not support Personal Hotspot. AT&T requires the iPad be on a MobileShare plan with at least 5GB of data. This plan costs $50 per month. Verizon and Sprint iPads will support Personal Hotspot with any data plan.
Enabling Personal Hotspot
Setting up Personal Hotspot takes a few minutes. Tap the Settings app on your iPad, then “General,” and then “Cellular.” You'll see a section labeled “Personal Hotspot.” Tap it and then slide the switch to “On” beside Personal Hotspot. Set a password in the text box below the switch to protect your iPad from unwanted connections. Access the Personal Hotspot from other devices by searching for the network called “iPad” and connecting to it.
There is a finite amount of bandwidth available to share among devices. The third generation iPad is LTE capable, meaning that it can theoretically support connections of up to 73Mbps, but real-world connections will be much slower. Apple says that in some cases only three devices can share the connection at any given time, so you may need to disconnect one device to connect another if your carrier limits the number of devices using Personal Hotspot.
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