Tethering: It's one of the most convenient features your smartphone has, yet carriers insist on restricting it.
Tethering most often refers to using your smartphone as a mobile hotspot. In other words, it lets you connect to the Internet on your laptop, tablet, or Wi-Fi enabled device, using your phone's data connection. Tethering is very useful if you happen to be in an area that has no free Wi-Fi and you need to do your computing on a device other than your phone.
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Carriers don't really want you to use this oh-so-convenient option, because users who tether are more likely to use a lot of data. After all, it's much easier to use data when you're browsing on a laptop or a tablet, than when you're limited to your smartphone's tiny screen. You might argue that, since most mobile plans feature limited data anyway, it shouldn't matter how you happen to use that data. But some carriers disagree, and will typically charge an extra $20 to $50 per month for tethering plans.
Tethering on your carrier
You may or may not have heard the news: Verizon recently announced that, thanks to an FCC investigation, it will stop blocking its Android users from downloading and using third-party tethering apps. This means that Verizon's Android users on usage-based plans can avoid the $20 tethering fee by using a third-party app instead of their phone's built-in tethering option (called Mobile Broadband Connect).
This doesn't mean that all tethering on Verizon is free, though -- it's not. Here's the breakdown: