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eSIMs 101: Do eSIMs support hotspot?

You can tether data from your Nomad eSIM as you travel.

· 5 min read

In today's fast-paced world, staying connected is more important than ever. We rely on our smartphones and other devices to keep us connected to the world around us, whether it's for work or play. One technology that has been gaining attention in recent years is eSIM. But what exactly is eSIM, and does it support hotspot functionality?


What is mobile hotspot?

A mobile hotspot, also commonly known as tethering, is a feature that allows you to share your smartphone's internet connection with other devices, such as laptops, tablets, or other smartphones.

But how does it work? When you activate the mobile hotspot feature on your smartphone, it essentially turns your device into a portable router. It uses your smartphone's cellular data connection to provide internet access to other devices. This means that as long as your smartphone has a data connection, you can share it with other devices seamlessly.

Why would you need a mobile hotspot when traveling?

There are many different situations when you would need a mobile hotspot, especially when you are traveling, including:

  • When you are on the go, there is no free Wi-Fi access, and you need to use access the internet on your laptop
  • When you need to have secure internet connection and do not want to use a public Wi-Fi network due to security concerns
  • You only have one device with data connection, but you have multiple devices that need to access the internet
  • You are traveling in a group, but you only bought one data plan
  • You want to keep your kids entertained by allowing them to stream their favourite movies or play online games on a Wi-Fi only device

Using eSIMs when traveling

eSIMs, short for embedded SIMs, are an increasingly common solution for helping travelers stay connected as they explore the world.

Some of the key benefits of using travel eSIMs include:

Travel eSIMs comes with its set of benefits, but for many people, a concern that they might have would be whether or not eSIMs would support tethering.

Can eSIMs support hotspot functionality?

Now, let's address the burning question: does eSIM support hotspot functionality? The short answer is yes! eSIM technology works similar to how a physical SIM card works, just without the physical card. And like a physical SIM card's ability to support hotspot functionalities, eSIMs are also equipped with the ability to support hotspot functionality.

BUT! While the technology itself is capable of supporting hotspot functionalities, whether or not you are able to use your data as a hotspot is provider-dependent. Again, this is no different from a physical SIM, where some providers block you from using your data packet as a hotspot.

How do providers know if I am using my eSIM data plan as a hotspot?

Providers identify if you are using your data packet as a hotspot by inspecting the contents of the network packets that are passed during the connection. By inspecting the network packets that are passed, the operators will be able to identify if the traffic was routed through an intermediate device -- which in the case of a mobile hotspot, would be your mobile device.

The network operators will be able to filter and block traffic the network packages that were routed through a mobile hotspot, essentially disabling the sharing of your data plan via a mobile hotspot.

If the ability to tether is a key consideration in your choice of travel eSIM providers, make sure to double-check that the provider allows you to use your data plan as a hotspot.

How do you make sure you are using your travel eSIM for your hotspot?

If you are using a travel eSIM, this likely also means that you will have multiple SIM cards (or eSIMs) installed in your device. You would want to make sure of is that you are using the data from your travel eSIM when you turn on your hotspot, so that you do not incur unexpected roaming or data charges.

The data pack that will be used for your hotspot will be the one that you are using for your data connection. So, what you really need to do is to simply ensure that the correct eSIM profile is being used for your mobile data connection:

On iOS

  1. Go to your device settings > Connectivity or Mobile Data
  2. Select Mobile Data
  3. Select the eSIM profile that you will use for your Mobile Data
  4. When you turn on mobile hotspot, this will be the same eSIM profile that will be used.

On Android

  1. Go to your device settings > Connections
  2. Select SIM Manager
  3. Under 'Mobile data', select the correct eSIM profile
  4. When you turn on mobile hotspot, this will be the same eSIM profile that will be used.

To ensure that you choose the correct eSIM profile, it is recommended that you name your eSIM profiles after installation so that you know which is the correct one to select.

Tips on using mobile hotspot

  1. Bring a powerbank with you: Using your device as a mobile hotspot drains your device battery. Make sure to have a powerbank with you to keep your device charged if you need to use it as a hotspot.
  2. Password-protect your mobile hotspot: Remember to password-protect your mobile hotspot to keep your network safe. You also do not want random strangers connecting to your hotspot and draining your data allowance!
  3. Turn it off when not in use: It is easy to forget to turn off your mobile hotspot when not in use, but this could cause a battery drain. We recommend that you switch it off when not in use.

Nomad: Travel data eSIMs with hotspot support

Generally, hotspot functionality is supported by all Nomad travel eSIMs. Just note the usual disclaimers that there could be cases where the stability of the hotspot may be influenced by your device type and the local network.

Nomad offers travel eSIM plans with hotspot in over 165 countries, and you can be sure to find one that is suitable for your travel needs. And if you will be traveling across multiple countries, there are also regional plans available so you can stay seamlessly connected as you hop between countries - and yes, they also come with hotspot support.

Whether you are traveling in Asia, North America, Europe, or even in the Nordics, Nomad has a variety of regional eSIM data plans for you to choose from. Data plans are available from as low as $1.50/GB.

How to get a Nomad eSIM?

Getting a Nomad eSIM is very easy. Simply create an account with Nomad, look for the plan that you want, and check out! You can also download the iOS or Android app and you can easily purchase and manage your data on the go!

After you purchase your eSIM, you will receive an email containing information on how to install and activate your eSIM. Remember that you will need a stable internet connection to install and activate your eSIM before you can use it.

It is recommended to install your eSIM ahead of time and activate it right before you fly, so that you can start using your data once you arrive at your destination. In some cases, your eSIM will be automatically activated when you arrive at your destination and no manual activation is required - check your email with the installation instructions for more information specific to your purchased plan.

And in the event that you run out of data, don't worry! Some of Nomad's plans come with the option to purchase add-ons. The purchase of add-ons will add more data to your existing eSIM, so you won't need to install a brand-new eSIM.