Why won't my hotspot work? How to troubleshoot your phone's mobile hotspot and provide an internet connection for other devices
- If your phone's hotspot won't work, there could be a number of different culprits causing the problem.
- Most issues with a hotspot can be solved by troubleshooting at home — and if you have an
Androidinstead of an iPhone, you have more options to fix the problem.
Picture this: You're out somewhere and you need to do some work on your laptop, but the Wi-Fi is unbearably slow. Normally, this wouldn't be a problem — your cell phone gets good LTE service, you can just connect your computer to your phone's mobile hotspot. But you try to connect to it and it won't work. Why?
This is a question with many possible answers, and many of them also depend on what type of phone you have.
How to troubleshoot a hotspot that won't work
If your mobile hotspot isn't working, run through this troubleshooting list to figure out why.
Make sure your phone's internet connection is working
Go to your phone's settings app and check to make sure your cellular data is switched on. You should also try to use the internet on your phone to make sure you're not in an area with slow or bad reception.
You should also check and make sure you haven't exceeded your cellular data limit for the month — if you're on a prepaid plan with a limit, your data speeds will be throttled when you pass it, rendering your hotspot essentially useless. To solve this issue, contact your data provider.
Make sure the Wi-Fi of the device you're trying to connect to is working
If your device won't connect to your phone, it could actually be a device issue. Try connecting to your phone's hotspot with another device. If it works, the problem is likely not your phone.
Turn the Wi-Fi on your connecting device on and off and see if that fixes the problem. If not, try restarting your device. If you still have issues, you may need to take it in for repairs.
Make sure the password is right
If your hotspot is password protected, look at the password on your phone and make sure you've entered the password correctly on the device you're connecting with — if it's not, you won't be able to connect.
If you're still having trouble, you can also change the password to something that will be easier to enter without mistakes.
Disable battery saver or low power mode
Battery saver mode works by limiting certain non-essential functions on your phone to conserve battery life. This isn't supposed to include limiting your phone's ability to connect to a hotspot, but all software gets buggy from time to time. This is an issue that is known to occur, especially on Android.
Try turning battery saver off and see if that fixes the issue.
Turn your phone's Wi-Fi on and off
Speaking of bugs in the system, even though your phone's Wi-Fi isn't usually the victim of them, it's not impossible for that to be the case. If it doesn't seem to be working, try switching it off and back on again and see if that fixes the issue.
Wi-Fi not working? Pair using Bluetooth or USB
To connect to an iPhone's cellular network via Bluetooth, turn on Bluetooth on your phone, connect to it from your other device, and confirm the connection on your phone.
To connect to an Android via Bluetooth or USB tethering, go to "Settings > Network and Internet > Hotspot and tethering" and toggle the relevant switch to the on position, then connect with your other device.
Try restarting your phone
Sometimes if your phone is on for too long, especially if several programs are running in the background, your phone can begin processing slower or even experiencing bugs — and it becomes more likely to happen if the battery life is low.
In that case, it's possible the problems you're experiencing with your hotspot could easily be simply solved by restarting your phone.
If you have an iPhone, this is about all you can do to fix any hotspot issues you might be having — if none of these troubleshooting options can solve your problem, it may be a bug in a software update, or you might need to take your phone in to be looked at.
More troubleshooting options if you have an Android phone
Roll back your software
Unlike iPhones, Android phones let you roll back software updates if you don't like them or they don't work on your phone.
Since it's possible that your hotspot issues are being caused by a bug in a software update, try going back to the older version of your OS and see if that fixes the issue. If it doesn't, you can always download the update again.
Disable automatic hotspot switching
With some newer phones, the hotspot will turn itself off if no device is connected to it for a few minutes. This might give you issues if your device goes into sleep mode, or if you leave the room and come back.
If this is your issue, go to "Settings > Network and Internet > Hotspot and tethering > Wi-Fi hotspot > Advanced" and switch the slider for "Turn off hotspot automatically" to the off position.
Create a new, open mobile hotspot
To change your hotspot to an open network, go to "Settings > Network and Internet > Hotspot and tethering > Wi-Fi hotspot" and change the Security setting to "None."
As a warning — this does leave you open to other people joining the network and using your cellular data, too. If you're in a public place, or are concerned about others nearby using your data, this may not be the best option.
Change the frequency band to 2.4GHz
Newer Android phones also come with the ability to change the frequency of the signal you send out to create the hotspot. While a 5GHz band is faster, many devices may not be able to pick it up, meaning you wouldn't see it listed under possible connections on the device you're trying to connect to your hotspot.
To switch back to the standard 2.4GHz band, go to "Settings > Network and Internet > Hotspot and tethering > Wi-Fi hotspot." Tap "AP Band," then select 2.4GHz from the list.
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