It’s never been easier to stream TV shows and movies with modern technology like WiFi and smart TVs.
Smart TVs need an internet connection to work.
Most smart TVs work best with an ethernet cord, but you can also connect your TV to a WiFi network or a mobile hotspot.
To connect your smart TV to a WiFi hotspot, you must first make sure the hotspot is active and discoverable. Then, select the WiFi network on your TV and enter the passcode for that network. The connection will work, but smart TVs use plenty of data, so you may not have the best viewing experience.
WiFi hotspots aren’t all created equal, so you’ll have to be careful about how many devices you’re connecting to a single hotspot.
Some hotspots have a device limit, whereas others are limited by how much data they can process at once.
To learn more about how to connect a smart TV to a WiFi hotspot, read on!
Turning Your Phone Into a Hotspot
If you have a smartphone, then you have a mobile hotspot readily available to you.
You can turn any internet-enabled phone into a makeshift modem and router with relative ease.
How exactly you turn on a hotspot from your phone depends on the model.
However, it’s usually as simple as toggling a switch to “on.”
The same steps work on tablets as well.
For Apple iOS products, here’s what you’ll do:
- Switch off your WiFi connection.
- Open “Settings.”
- Toggle “Personal Hotspot” to the on position.
- Enable “Allow Others to Join.”
- Apple will generate a password for your hotspot, but you can change it. Either way, note it down because you’ll need it to connect your TV.
For Android products, including Galaxy, Motorola, Google, and LG products, do this:
- Turn off your WiFi connection.
- Open the “Settings” App.
- Select the “Internet,” “Hotspot,” or “Tethering” option. Your phone model impacts the name of the menu, but look for words related to internet connections.
- Toggle the hotspot option to the on position.
- Depending on your device, you may be able to change the name of the network or password.
- Make any adjustments you want, then note the password so that you can connect your smart TV.
Check to make sure that there aren’t any devices automatically connected to your hotspot.
Most can only handle a few devices at a time.
For the best quality, you’ll want your TV to be the only device using the hotspot.
Once you’ve got your hotspot up and running, you can move on to connecting your TV.
What To Do on the TV End
Connecting your smart TV to the hotspot is exactly like connecting it to your home WiFi network.
Open up the settings menu on your TV and find the “Network” or “Connection” menu.
Your TV will bring up a list of available networks to join.
Select the mobile hotspot network you set up previously and enter the passcode.
Then, you should be connected and able to use any of your streaming apps.
If you aren’t connecting right away or get an error message saying you can’t connect, check to make sure nothing else is linked to the hotspot.
Mobile hotspots have more limitations than a standard internet modem and router.
Disconnect any other devices and repeat the connection steps, and you should be able to run your TV.
The Downsides of Using a Hotspot for Your TV
While it’s possible to use a hotspot to power your smart TV, it isn’t a great idea.
That’s because mobile hotspots aren’t the most secure internet connections.
They use cell towers and cellular data, which is less secure than standard WiFi or wired internet connections.
Hotspots are also not as strong as other connections.
Cellular data is susceptible to obstructions and interruptions.
For example, if you’re trying to connect a mobile hotspot in a room with concrete walls and no windows, the cellular data will have trouble penetrating the concrete, and your connection strength will suffer.
Some smart TVs can’t connect to mobile hotspots.
Since this method of linking is subpar, some manufacturers don’t include it.
Check the user manual for your smart TV to see if that’s the case; the manufacturer may have decided it isn’t worth it to include that capability.
Using a hotspot to run your smart TV can also become expensive very quickly based on the amount of data streaming uses.
The connection is easy to make, but it isn’t going to give you the quality experience that your smart TV is capable of delivering.
Warning: Watch Out for Data Use
Using your phone or tablet as a hotspot does use your mobile data.
If you have an unlimited data plan, this might not be a problem for you, but if you have a monthly data cap or your data slows down after using a certain amount, running your TV via hotspot could get expensive.
The higher the video quality, the more data it takes to stream content. For example, Netflix has three different streaming qualities: low, medium, and high.
Low uses 0.3 GB of data per hour, but high uses up to 7 GB per hour.
Watching one movie at the highest streaming quality could run through your entire monthly data allotment.
However, most streaming platforms will adjust their quality automatically to maintain a stable connection.
To prevent awkward stopping and starting, the app will downgrade the video quality.
So by using a mobile hotspot, you might be sacrificing the quality that your TV is capable of, particularly if your smart TV has ultra high definition or 4K capabilities.
You can override the automatic quality adjustment, but you’ll risk a jumpy picture, all while using up more and more data.
If a wired connection isn’t an option for you, this doesn’t have to be a death sentence for your smart TV.
You can always find a dedicated hotspot instead of using your phone.
Other Kinds of WiFi Hotspots Worth Trying
If you’re worried about data usage or a consistent connection, you might want to invest in a dedicated WiFi hotspot.
These devices offer a more stable connection to the internet, and you can connect more gadgets to them than to your cell phone.
The Alcatel Linkzone WiFi Hotspot from Amazon.com is a great choice for a standalone hotspot.
You can connect up to 15 devices simultaneously, and it’s compatible with sim cards from multiple telecom carriers.
You’ll need to purchase a data plan for any dedicated mobile hotspot, just like you would for a cell phone.
Often, your cell phone provider can add another sim card to your monthly billing cycle for a small fee or as part of a promotion.
If you anticipate connecting your smart TV to a hotspot as your primary way of accessing the smart features, a separate data plan is a good idea.
You may also wonder: Will a smart TV work with an antenna?
Connecting a smart TV to a WiFi hotspot is as easy as flipping a few switches and typing in a password.
However, a cellular connection isn’t the optimal way to run your smart TV.
Streaming television and movies is a data-heavy activity, and mobile hotspots are relatively weak internet connections.
Whenever possible, you should link your smart TV to the internet with an ethernet cable for a steady connection that won’t use up all of your cellular data every month.
For a wireless connection, it’s best to hook your smart TV to your regular modem and router.