Does Hotspot Use A Lot Of Data? And How To Keep Usage Down

You might find yourself thinking, does hotspot use a lot of data when a friend switches on their mobile hotspot for you?

A hotspot uses as much data as you demand. If you use a hotspot to check your email quickly and light browsing, your hotspot data usage might be as little as 60 Mbs/hr.

However, switch the hotspot to live stream or watch 4K resolution videos, and your hotspot might shoot to as high as 800 MB-1 Gb/hour.

We’ll clarify hotspot data usage misconceptions to help you manage your data.  

Hotspot Data Usage

A hotspot is a location where you can access the internet from your device when you connect to the signal. Typically, an ISP provides internet access to a location. These locations have routers or access points beaming signals that provide wireless access to connected devices. 

There are two kinds of hotspots: public and private.
You might find public hotspots in high-traffic areas such as coffee joints, airports, and libraries. 

Also, you can create a private hotspot using your phone or a hotspot device(MiFi). See, your phone or the device has a data plan. When you turn on the device, you create a mobile hotspot and make it an internet access point. 

Depending on your provider, you can get about 40-50 Mbps speeds on a 4G LTE hotspot and up to 120 Mbps speeds on a 5G hotspot. With these speeds, it is common for a hotspot to use between 60 MB/hour and 1 GB per hour. 

Here’s where the data usage becomes an issue. Depending on the number of devices tethered to your hotspot, you might see a steady or huge uptick in data usage. 

Does Hotspot Use More Data Than Phone?

A Portable Mi-Fit Hotspot and a phone

A Portable Mi-Fit Hotspot and a phone

Technically, your hotspot uses more data than your phone.
Imagine this. When you use your phone alone, you limit usage because you know about your data plan. However, your usage increases depending on how many devices connect to your hotspot. 

Worse still, you leave your hotspot open for anyone nearby to access.
Anyone connecting to your hotspot can skyrocket your data usage if they use your connection for intensive online activity. 

However, remember hotspot data usage is limited to the data available on the hotspot device. 

Is Hotspotting As Good as Wi-Fi?

A public WiFi hotspot

A public WiFi hotspot

In some instances, hot spotting can be as good as WiFi. 

But some factors could affect how well you rank hot-spotting against WiFi. 

Hotspotting is a great solution for portability and quick convenience. If you need quick access to the internet in a place with no WiFi coverage and you’re fresh out of data on your primary device, hotspotting can save you. 

Additionally, you can tether multiple devices to one hotspot, just like you would connect them to WiFi.
However, hot-spotting speed is only as good as your ISP and the area coverage. 

Your hotspot may not have the best speeds for the task the tethered device needs, at least not like a stable WiFi connection. 

Also, some data providers place a cap on your hotspot. That means some online activities are impossible if your provider limits your sharing of data. 

Does Hotspot Use More Data Than Normal?

The short answer in this scenario would be yes. Hotspots can use more data than normal.

Let’s compare your data usage on your phone versus your data usage using a hotspot. 

If you have a 1 GB data plan subscription with your provider, you will use 1 GB on your phone, knowing you only have 1 GB. You aren’t using your mobile phone or the data plan as a hotspot. 

However, a hotspot is open to other devices. Unlike phone data that is compressed, some devices, such as your laptop or tablet, may not have compressed pages.

Therefore, you might use more data than you would normally use. 

To be clear, hotspot usage depends on how many devices are tapping into the hotspot and what you are doing on the connected devices. 

How Does A Hotspot Use More Data?

A hotspot uses more data in three ways.

  • When multiple devices connect to the hotspot.
  • When some users use the hotspot for data-thirsty activities such as streaming.
  • When some of the services consume more data than your device.

Also, if you are the sole user of a hotspot and consume your regular data, you keep data usage to your usual level. Only when you use other devices, such as a computer, do you see an increase in data usage. 

Do You Need A Mobile Phone For Hotspot?

A mobile phone may be a highly convenient hotspot. Yet, you don’t necessarily need it. 

There are dedicated hotspot devices that you can carry to use as hotspots. These devices, called MiFis, can connect up to 30 devices. 

They come with their own service provider SIM cards. You also have to buy a separate data plan for them. 

Here’s more good news. 

Some of these hotspots come with nifty features such as 

  • WiFi 6 support. 
  • Multi-device support of about 30 devices.
  • Multiple band support. Some even support – 6GHz.
  • Display interface
  • Ethernet ports for wired connections. These wired connections are a gem for your computer connection.

Usually, you can get a hotspot device sim card from cell phone service providers such as Verizon and AT&T. Companies like Netgear and Orbic partner with carriers to provide MiFi devices. 

Does Hotspot Run Out?

Although your service provider might tell you you’ve got an unlimited data plan, they also give you a certain amount for the hotspot. For example, they might give you 50-100 GB.

The provider could cap or throttle your speeds once the allowable data runs out. 

Conversely, the provider gives you options to either top up the data or charge you more per unit of data you consume after you have exhausted the allocated amount. 

Some activities will exhaust your data much faster than others. Streaming in 4k will make your hotspot faster than just regular HD streaming.

Casual internet browsing with a normal device like a mobile phone will take longer to exhaust your data. 


Hotspots are innovative gadgets that you can carry anywhere to get internet access. Also, you can use a public hotspot if you consider it safe.

However, your usage can be limited. Your data provider will throttle your speeds or charge you more once you exhaust your monthly package.

Limit the number of devices and high-demand activity to save hotspot data and battery life.