In a sense, it can be used as a wired-wireless network. If your laptop or PC do not have WiFi capabilities, then you can connect your phone via a USB cable and use it as a tether that way. The effect would be remotely the same and in my opinion, faster, than using the WiFi to feed off of the phone's wireless hotspot (more Mbps if its wired).
The most I've ever experimented with the hotspot feature was when my phone was connected to my wireless router via WiFi and I connected the phone to my PC via the USB cable and used a 3rd party tethering app from the Android market to enable the wired-wireless connection. I was certainly surprised to see my that this method actually increased the Mbps from 100Mbps/LAN to 225Mbps/Wireless. Usually (in my experience) the WiFi method kills the Mbps and drops it down from 100 to 50Mbps.
If you undertand what I'm talking about, sweet. If not, I apologize. Haven't had my coffee yet.