If your Chromebook backs mobile connectivity, you may be able to start using it as a hotspot. The upcoming change was spotted in Chromium Gerrit, the web-based code review system Google’s developers use to work on future updates.
When the feature is available for testing, you can activate it through chrome://flags. The capability is still remote, with developers describing it as a way for a Chromebook to “share its cellular internet connection to additional devices through WiFi.”
But once it’s rolled out, it should permit you to connect your phone, tablet, or laptop to your Chromebook’s mobile network.
Verizon, T-Mobile, and AT&T already suggest a minimal line of Chromebooks you can purchase, giving you the primary key to a mobile network. You can also add a Chromebook to a current plan or add a SIM card, which Google describes how to do here.
You can already share your internet connection from a Windows 10 or 11 devices via ethernet, WiFi, or a cellular network. And while MacBooks also have an internet-sharing feature, there currently aren’t any MacBook models with an option for cellular connectivity.
Giving Chromebooks the capability is smart, considering the devices typically have a long battery life or are already being used while plugged in, meaning more extended connectivity. It’s still unclear how much power the hotspot feature will drain from Chromebooks, but it will likely vary from device to device.
For business customers or folks who spend a lot of time away from WiFi, building the hotspot directly into the laptop could mean having one less item to keep track of while avoiding draining your phone’s battery to stay online.
Small and light, a hotspot is frequently no more influential than an Altoids box yet can put you online anywhere you can complete a mobile call. Like a mobile phone but without the capability to make or take voice calls, a mobile hotspot connects the 4G or 5G mobile data network to the internet and delivers a new, secure WiFi network for you and your friends.
It usually can drive for hours on battery power and is as snug as your router at home, often with the option of WiFi Protect Access-3 (WPA-3) level encryption. Plus, all your data is additionally encrypted while on the mobile data network, creating everything as protected as possible.
It relies on the hotspot, the network, and the service you are expending for. Still, two things are relatively consistent across all the alternatives: You must buy the hotspot and then pay for service perpetually.
The up-front cost of actual hotspot hardware can vary rather widely. Right now, a significant factor is whether the hotspot tops out at a 4G connection or is future-looking enough to sustain 5G. You probably won’t be surprised to comprehend that 5G hotspots tend to be particularly more expensive. Where 4G hotspots can be found for below $100, 5G hotspots tend to run upwards of several hundred — just for the hardware.
Almost all cellular providers permit you to pay for pricey hotspots on an installment plan, reducing the cost of even the expensive ones to around $15 a month or lower. But as with all items tech (and just in general), buying outright if you can afford it will save you money in the extended run.
The cost of a plan also alters depending on many variables. It includes how much data you want on your schedule, the connection speed, and whether you have an existing project with a given provider. Verizon, for example, offers a $20/month “Essential” plan, which comes with 15GB of data, but only for people who are counting a hotspot to their existing coverage. At T-Mobile, you can seize a hotspot and connect it to a prepaid plan for a recurring fee of as small as $10 a month but a smaller 2GB limit.
The term “mobile hotspot” generally directs to a dedicated device, but before you go out and get one, there’s another explanation you should consider: using your phone as a hotspot. Most modern phones can do the same thing a separate device can: connecting via cellular and producing a WiFi network for other gadgets to connect locally.
Using your phone maintains you from needing another network account and is one minor thing to lose. On the downside, using your mobile as a hotspot can shorten the phone’s battery life. It can also count additional expenses to your mobile plan if it supports it.
Setting it up is quick and straightforward. Here’s how:
For Android Mobiles
- Begin at the Settings Connections section and click Mobile Hotspot and Tethering.
- Complete by turning the Mobile Hotspot slider switch on.
- The network name and passcode you’ll require are now on-screen.
For iPhones and iPads
- Unlock the Settings tab on the Home screen and tap the Personal Hotspot section.
- Turn on Allow Others to Join.
- The network’s name is your device’s name, and the password appears in the middle of the screen.