The TV Answer Man!

Can I Watch Netflix Using a Hotspot?

Q.  I don’t have an Internet service at my home, but I do have the ability to create a Hotspot from my iPhone or iPad. Could I stream Netflix on my Smart TV using the Hotspot? — Carl, Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Carl, that’s a great question. As you know, you need an Internet connection in your home to stream Netflix on a Smart TV or some other device that offer streaming services, such as a Blu-ray player or Smart TV device.

See Update: Can I Stream Netflix With a Hotspot and Unlimited Data Plan?

Many mobile phones and tablets can run on 3G, 4G, LTE or other Internet plans — and, yes, you can create a Hotspot from your mobile device to create a wireless Internet network in your home. For instance, your wife and kids could access your Hotspot to surf the Net on their computer or other devices. (Consult the settings of your mobile to learn how to create a Hotspot.)

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The Hotspot usually requires more data and, consequently, a more expensive data plan. And therein lies the rub for your Netflix idea.

For starters, many Hotspots on mobile devices are not compatible with Smart TVs or even Smart TV devices. The set or set-top may detect the Hotspot connection, but you may not be able to actually connect to it to stream.

Second, if you can access the Hotspot on your Smart TV, you probably don’t want to. The Hotspot usually comes with a maximum data limit — say, 5.0 GB a month — and streaming requires a lot of data. If you used your Hotspot to watch Netflix, or any other streaming service, for any significant amount of time, you could exceed your data limit pretty quickly and be liable for the overage charges.

There are ways to limit data use while watching Netflix on a Hotspot, or any Internet service, for that matter. Netflix has a feature that enables you to watch video at a lesser quality, which reduces data consumption. This can be an option for your Hotspot, particularly on a relatively small mobile phone screen where so-so video quality becomes less noticeable than on a large-screen TV.

But even using the reduced video quality option, you may find that you will reach your data limit faster than you realize.

So, Carl, you can use a Hotspot to watch Netflix at home, but  I would advise that you only do so for a short period of time. If you really want to stream video in your home, I would suggest signing up with an Internet Service Provider.

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