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FAQ: Tethering and Personal Hotspots

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Last updated by Isabel M

A Note About Tethering on GSM Devices

Only 3G wireless tethering is supported for GSM devices. If you are having trouble with tethering on your GSM device, confirm that you are connected to 3G or WCDMA data and not LTE or 2G (GSM).

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Using your phone as a personal hotspot--or tethering--can be a great way to stay connected while you're mobile. Below are some frequently asked questions about tethering.

 

1. What is tethering?

Tethering (or hotspotting) is allowing other devices, like a computer or tablet, to use your phone's connection to the cellular data network in order to access the Internet. You can do this by connecting physically to your phone with a USB cord or you can enable your phone's Wi-Fi network and connect to that.

2. Do I need to enable tethering on my account?

Yes. If your device is capable of tethering that option will be listed in the Megabytes section of its settings page in your Ting account. Make sure the option is "Enabled". If tethering isn't an option on your device, then the option will not show up in your device settings at all.

 

CDMA Device

2. Do I need to enable tethering on my account?

 

GSM Device 

 

 

3. How do I know if my phone supports tethering?

All smartphones sold by Ting can tether unless it states otherwise in the device information. Feature phones, as a rule, cannot tether.

If you're getting ready to purchase a device for BYOD, then you'll want to check the specifications for that device to see if it supports tethering. Websites like GSM Arena are a great resource for finding this type of information. You'll want to look for terms like "Wi-Fi hotspot" in the specifications under Data and/or WLAN information.

4. Are there any extra fees for tethering?

There are no extra fees for having the tethering feature enabled on your account. However, any data you use while your phone is tethered will be billed.

5. Will I see the data usage from tethering split out on my bill?

No. Just like the cable company, they can tell you that you watched TV, but not what you watched. We can tell that you've used data and we can even tell you which device on your account incurred the data usage, but we don't know whether you were watching a video on your phone or tethered to your computer so you could watch a video that way.

6. How can I keep on top of my data usage while tethering?

It's harder to keep on top of all the processes on your computer that might use data in the background so it's a good idea to have data usage alerts/hard caps set up when tethering to your phone. Just keep in mind, if your device is in the middle of a process that uses data (i.e. downloading a file, watching a continuous play list of videos or an app running in the background) that process will need to complete before an alert is sent or a hard cap kicks in.

While the cost of services like Netflix or Hulu are relatively low and static, they incur data usage if you use them while tethered to your phone. We would recommend against using these types of services while tethered to your phone unless your are very clear on the data costs it's likely to incur. To get a sense of how different activities stack up in terms of data usage, try out our usage calculator.

7. Can my phone be connected to another Wi-Fi network while tethering?

No. Your phone cannot be connected to another Wi-Fi network while you are using it as a hotspot and, generally, there's no reason to try that. If there's a Wi-Fi network available and your computer or tablet is Wi-Fi capable, then you should just connect those devices to that network directly.

8. Are there any restrictions on tethering?

Tethering is not an option while roaming domestically and may not be available while roaming internationally.

9. How do I enable tethering on my phone?

It's pretty easy. Check out this article for details on how using the tethering feature on your phone.

Have more questions? Submit a request

Comments

  • Avatar
    Virginia Ferentinos

    Can anyone give an idea on what costs will be accrued by using the Wi Fi Hotspot feature of the phone?

  • Avatar
    Seth Pinter

    Whatever data you use will be what you pay for. Let's say you don't normally use any data on your phone but decide to use the Wifi Hotspot to download an important document to your laptop. If the file is 20MB, then you only pay for those 20MB which would land you in the S plan costing you $3. You could then use up to 100MB of data (in total) without incurring any other charges because you'd still be in the S plan.

    You aren't charged for actually tethering. Some companies (like AT&T) charged upwards of $10/month to enable tethering and then you had to pay for data on top of that. Ting has no such tethering/hotspot fees.

  • Avatar
    Gary Kline

    When I saw the "Sprint Hotspot" app on my HTC Evo 3D and launched it, I found I could make it work with little trouble.  But then it had me wondering... does using Sprint's built-in app incur an additional charge?  I'd heard somewhere that it's $1/day, anytime you launch it.  I ended up installing another WiFi tethering app that works just as well (the Android WiFi Tether app), because I was feeling a little paranoid.  ;-)

    The only nasty thing about tethering is that a laptop may have a number of services running in the background that periodically access the Internet (like anti-virus, Windows Update, etc).  It would be great if there was some way you could control your network profile so that from a click of a button you could disable all Internet access except for select applications (like a browser), to help keep the download bandwidth under control.

  • Avatar
    Andrew Costen

    No, using the Sprint Hotspot app on a Ting plan should not cost anything extra. All you pay is for the data plan you fall into based on your usage.

  • Avatar
    April Digh

    So If I am tethering using my house Wi-Fi to get internet access on my computer (My wireless card antennae broke off my computer)  via USB, Will I be charged even though I am not using the Ting network Data?

  • Avatar
    siguie shortstrider

    @April

    You should wait for the official answer but you're really not hotspotting or "tethering" via your phones data service, you are just using your phone as a wireless receiver for your home wifi. You can turn off data on your phone, or even in your Ting dash and it will work just as well for this purpose.

    I've done this and was never charged, If you do not use data through Ting then I can't see why they would charge anything.

     

    Incidentally my phone works much better as a wireless adapter than my actual portable wifi adapter AND the usb connection keeps my phone charged.

  • Avatar
    Samantha C

    Hey April, Siguie is 100% right. A wifi connection trumps your mobile data connection, but we recommend following Siguie's instructions just incase your wifi signal drops for some reason you won't accidentally connect to the mobile network. 

  • Avatar
    Melissa Worcester

    I have an LG Marquee. The phone has the capability to be a hotspot, as far as I can tell. However, when I called today to find out about it, I was told this, "Some models we sold were not provisioned for the tethering and that's why I do not have the facility to enable the service for you." And that, according to the Ting rep I spoke to, is the end of the story. No can do.

    I don't understand why.

  • Avatar
    siguie shortstrider

    @Melissa 

    I have a refurbed LG Marquee from Ting and to my knolwedge none of them actually are "provisioned" for tethering with TIng. There is some kind of silly code that allows for tethering from Sprint but it wont work with Ting. That said if you root your Marquee you may solve that problem.

    In all honesty the only reason I wanted the LG Marquee is because is it's trivial to root and then it becomes an excellent phone. The stock phone is sluggish, annoying and seems to need the battery pulled periodically to restart.

    Obviously I highly recommend rooting your phone and I believe it will solve your tethering problem though you should of course ask a Ting representative in case there really was someway to not install tethering capabilities on the LG Marquee and I'm just not aware of it.

     

    That said if you do decide to root, be sure to back up all of your data and be aware of what rooting entails. Oh and there is a link in the forum on how to do it.

     

    Good luck!

  • Avatar
    Shelle Pourmanafzadehardabili

    When I try to set up my iPhone 4S as a hotspot, it says I need to call Sprint...? That seems incorrect...(I was with sprint before I changed over)

  • Avatar
    Renny M

    Hi Shelle,

    It looks like the feature to "Allow other devices to tether to this device" was disabled for your device on your Ting account. I have gone ahead and enabled it for you. If you ever need to edit the features on your Ting device, sign into Ting.com and go to device settings. Click on your phone number and you will be able to enable or disable the features of your device. if you make any changes, make sure to hit save at the bottom of the page. You should be able to use the hotspot feature on your device now. Feel free to contact our support team if you need any additional help.

  • Avatar
    G Mitchell

    Not sure what the deal is but the video on this topic is marked "Private".

  • Avatar
    Renny M

    Hi Mitchell,

    Thanks for bringing that to our attention, we are looking into it!

    UPDATE: the video should be working now.

  • Avatar
    Robin Moody

    Can I tether on a Iphone 5?

    Can I tether on a Iphone 4?

    Does Iphone4 run on 3g or 4g? Thanks!

  • Avatar
    Renny M

    Hi Robin,

    You should be able to tether on both the 4, 4s and the 5 on Ting. The feature must be enabled on your Ting account under device settings in order for it to work on your device. Despite having 4 in its name, that device can only connect to 3G data networks. 

     

  • Avatar
    Joe Weaks

    Are there any BYOD basic/feature phones I can find on on your store or in craigslist/ebay that support tethering for the occasional use for my iPad while traveling?

  • Avatar
    Marg C

    Hi Joe! Very few feature phones would support tethering, activities like that are simply beyond the capabilities of a basic phone. The Kyocera Verve does, though that's more of a feature phone/entry level smartphone device. Price-wise, a used smartphone that's on the BYOD list, that has a confirmed hotspot or tethering ability might be a better choice!  

  • Avatar
    Nina Williams

    Brought over a sprint I phone 4c but when trying to activate the hot spot I am instructed to contact sprint? Call for support and followed your instructions after you enable tethering on my account however; I am still receiving the same message to contact sprint.

  • Avatar
    Aidee Sanchez

    What's the difference between tethering on my iphone 4 and adding a netgear zing hotspot device to my account? Does the zing use less data, or does it all depend on my usage? Wondering whether to turn on tethering on my phone or just add the zing device to my account (I already have one). 

  • Avatar
    Marg C

    Hi Aidee! You may notice more megabytes being used through your iPhone data, as it does not compress data. It's unlikely be a huge difference, however. Adding the Netgear Zing to your account will add an additional active device fee, which may even out any differences. 

    Nina, I see that you were working with a Ting rep about your Hotspot issue, be sure to respond to her Help Request to keep troubleshooting! 

  • Avatar
    Erik Johnson

    I just thought I'd leave this here for those having trouble tethering on GSM. I have a Nexus 6 and am unable to tether unless I go into Settings -> More -> Cellular Networks -> Preferred network type and changing the setting from LTE to 3G. Tethering apparently is not supported on T-Mobile's LTE network.

     

    For what it's worth, when set to 3G your phone should (depending on network availability) connect to T-Mobile's HSPA+ network, which isn't as slow as traditional 3G networks. I was still able to get nearly 15Mbps downstream on Speedtest.net while tethering on T-Mobile's HSPA+ network.

     

    Unfortunately, this means that every time I want to tether, I need to alter this setting, and then change it back when I am done.

  • Avatar
    Bertram Moshier

    In the article the author writes only 3G

    "

  • Avatar
    Bertram Moshier

    In the article the author writes only a 3G connection works. Fine, but, Ting is giving me a 4GLTE connection. How do I force a 3G?

  • Avatar
    Jamie Duncan

    Hey Bertram!

    Sorry about the delayed response but you should be able to change your phones data connection status from LTE to 3G. Depending on your device, you should be able to access "Preferred Network Type" or "Network Mode" under Mobile Networks in your Settings. Under those headings, there should be an option for you to select WCDMA or select "3G"

    From there, you should be able to use tethering on our GSM network :)

  • Avatar
    Mary Johnson

    I have a Samsung Galaxy Note 4 that I just brought over from Verizon. When I select preferred network mode, I can only choose global, lte/cdma or lte/GSM/umts. Which should I choose to get the best service from Ting? And when I turn on mobile hotspot, I get a msg that says "number not found" like it's still trying to go through Verizon.

  • Avatar
    Jamie Duncan

    Hey Mary!

    You would want to select LTE/GSM/UMTS. The reason for this is that the Verizon CDMA bands to not match up with our CDMA network -- it can only be used on the GSM network. As for your mobile hotspot, it's always a good thing to try and delete/re-enter your APN settings on your device.. here they are just in case you have not entered them in:

    https://help.ting.com/hc/en-us/articles/205428698-GSM-Android-APN-Settings

    If the problem still persists, please do not hesitate to give us a call, open up the chat box from our website or send us an email to further troubleshoot the problem :)

  • Avatar
    Mary Johnson

    Jamie,
    Thanks for the reply. I set the mobile network to LTE/GSM/UMTS as recommended. I also checked the APN settings- everything looked good, but mobile hotspot still doesn't work. I'm not real concerned as it appears my signal here is pretty weak although it shows on the GSM network that I should have 4G LTE. My phone signal varies from 2 to 34 bars with an "E" next to it. What does that mean?

  • Avatar
    Jamie Duncan

    Hey Mary!

    The E symbol next to your signal stands for Edge network, or to make it more understanding "2G." In other words this is a slow data signal that should be much stronger (aka LTE) if your phone's cellular bands match our towers radio frequencies. I have sent you a personal email to further discuss troubleshooting

  • Avatar
    Lisa Moore

    My son has limited data through his dad's Sprint plan. On occasion, I will turn the hotspot on my TING phone on while we are in the car, so he can play Madden Mobile...or whatever.

    While I am doing that, am I essentially using and being charged double-data...for the data my phone is using + the data used by the tethered device?

  • Avatar
    Brian McLellan

    Hi Lisa! No there would just be the single usage use, just for the data used by the tethered device. (Usage that's not part of the tethering -- ie your phone checking Facebook while it's tethered -- would still count as usage, but it wouldn't be double-usage)

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