- If you have a usage-based 2GB data plan, you can add tethering to your plan for $14.99 a month. This gets you an additional 2GB of data.
- If you have a usage-based 5GB or 10GB plan, tethering is available at no additional cost. Tethering takes data from your existing data pool of 5GB or 10GB.
- If you have an unlimited data plan, you're not allowed to tether. T-Mobile does not allow the use of third-party tethering apps on its network.
Third-party tethering apps for Android
There are two ways to tether on your Android phone -- you can use your phone's built-in hotspot feature, which may or may not incur charges from your carrier. Or you can use a third-party tethering app.
While most carriers (AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile) do not technically allow the use of third-party tethering apps, many third-party tethering apps are still available and will work on phones on those networks. Whether you use a third-party app for tethering is at your discretion, since networks will often charge you if they discover you're using tethering data and not paying for it.
Remember, if you do choose to use a third-party app for tethering, it's a good idea to be conservative about how much data you use. If you only tether your laptop to your phone's data connection to check email on the fly, your carrier probably won't notice. But if you're constantly streaming Netflix videos on your tablet using your phone's data connection, your carrier will probably get suspicious -- especially if you have an unlimited data plan.
Numerous third-party tethering apps are available today, including apps for rooted and nonrooted phones. Here are a few of the better options:
Tethering apps for nonrooted phones
PdaNet: PdaNet is a free download on Google Play, but this only gets you a 14-day trial. After 14 days, the app will block access to secure websites (websites that require a login) unless you purchase the full edition for $15.95. PdaNet allows you to tether your phone's data connection to your laptop using a USB cable or Bluetooth dial-up networking, or to turn your phone into a Wi-Fi hotspot (though the Wi-Fi hotspot mode does not work on all phones).
EasyTether: EasyTether is a USB tethering app, which means it lets you share your phone's data connection with your laptop via a USB cable. It also lets you tether your game console (PlayStation 3, Nintendo Wii, or Xbox) using PC Internet Connection Sharing (you need to go through a computer first to tether your console). EasyTether has two versions: a free Lite version and a paid $9.99 version. The Lite version blocks secure websites, instant messengers, and game console tethering. The app supports Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux. As of this article's writing, EasyTether was still blocked on Verizon devices.