How To Tether Your Smartphone in Case Hurricane Sandy Knocks Out Your Internet

The Citizen's Guide to the Future
Oct. 29 2012 2:54 PM

How To Tether Your Smartphone in Case Hurricane Sandy Knocks Out Your Internet

How to use your smartphone to get wifi for your computer

Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images

If you’re reading this, you’re lucky enough not to live in one of the 100,000-plus homes across Virginia, Delaware, New Jersey, and other states that, as of about 2:45 p.m. Monday, have already lost power due to Hurricane Sandy. You already have a disaster plan for your food and your pets in case of a power outage, but what about your Internet? If your access is down, you won’t be able to live-tweet the hurricane and upload crazy flooding photos!

The solution: to use your smartphone as a wi-fi hotspot for your laptop, game console, or other devices.


If you have a Droid:
Install an app like Extended Control, Wi-Fi Tether, Wireless Tether for Root Users, or Foxfi. According to Computer World’s J.R. Raphael, Wi-fi hotspot functionality is ingrained into Android devices. The problem usually arises when it comes to your carrier. Many carriers, such as Verizon, require you to pay to use the Wi-Fi hotspot as an additional feature.

However, says Raphael:

Just between you and me, as long as you don't suddenly start burning through copious amounts of data, the odds of anyone noticing are probably pretty low. People (erm, no one in particular, of course) have been doing this for a long time without any problems. Still, you should read through your carrier's usage agreement and make sure you understand its policies before deciding if you want to proceed. Like with all non-officially-endorsed procedures, this is an adventure you'll have to embark on at your own risk.

If you have an iPhone:
If you have a data-sharing plan such as AT&T’s Mobile Share plan or Verizon’s Share Everything plan, a personal hot-spot option is included. You can call your carrier and enable your iPhone’s hotspot capability now, but AT&T customers with an unlimited data plan be warned that opting into the company’s hotspot features will downgrade your current plan to a more limited version. Gadget Review walks you through the range of corporate-sponsored hotspot features for the iPhone. Alternatively, you can install the app iTether on both your phone and computer. iTether’s plan costs $30 per year, but may set you back significantly less than enabling the hot-spot from your carrier.

A word of caution: All of this will drain your phone battery, and if your own Internet is down, odds are your electricity is not that far behind. Maybe save the Homeland episodes for once the power is back on.

Future Tense is a partnership of SlateNew America, and Arizona State University.


Medical Examiner

The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola 

The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity.

I Bought the Huge iPhone. I’m Already Thinking of Returning It.

Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.

Students Aren’t Going to College Football Games as Much Anymore

And schools are getting worried.

160 Countries Host Marches to Demand Action on Climate Change


Blacks Don’t Have a Corporal Punishment Problem

Americans do. But when blacks exhibit the same behaviors as others, it becomes part of a greater black pathology. 

Why a Sketch of Chelsea Manning Is Stirring Up Controversy

How Worried Should Poland, the Baltic States, and Georgia Be About a Russian Invasion?

Trending News Channel
Sept. 19 2014 1:11 PM Watch Flashes of Lightning Created in a Lab  
  News & Politics
Sept. 20 2014 11:13 AM -30-
Business Insider
Sept. 20 2014 6:30 AM The Man Making Bill Gates Richer
Sept. 20 2014 7:27 AM How Do Plants Grow Aboard the International Space Station?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 4:58 PM Steubenville Gets the Lifetime Treatment (And a Cheerleader Erupts Into Flames)
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Sept. 21 2014 1:15 PM The Slate Doctor Who Podcast: Episode 5  A spoiler-filled discussion of "Time Heist."
Brow Beat
Sept. 21 2014 2:00 PM Colin Farrell Will Star in True Detective’s Second Season
Future Tense
Sept. 19 2014 6:31 PM The One Big Problem With the Enormous New iPhone
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 21 2014 8:00 AM An Astronaut’s Guided Video Tour of Earth
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.