How to Use Android’s Built-In Tethering When Your Carrier Blocks It

IMG_9060

Tethering your phone’s internet connection, which allows users to share their phone’s data connection with other devices, is really useful if you’re out and about with no Wi-Fi, but some carriers block the feature from your phone. If you get an error message when you try to tether—something like “Account not set up for tethering”—here’s a fix.

I know this is a touchy subject, and there are two sides to this argument. On one side, you’ve got the “if it’s blocked by the carrier, then you shouldn’t be able to bypass it” crowd, and on the other, you have the “but I pay for this data and want to use it how I see fit!  crowd. While I can appreciate both sides, tethering is sometimes necessary—regardless of the situation.

Some phones allow you to tether right out of the box, even if your carrier technically doesn’t allow it in your plan. But some newer devices—like the Nexus 5X and 6P—actually prevent you from using this feature if your carrier requests it. When you try to enable the personal hotspot, you get a message saying that you should contact your carrier to enable the feature.

Screenshot_20160721-100022

Get Your Phone Ready

You have a few options for bypassing this error. You could use a third-party tethering app like PdaNet+, which—while a little janky—does the trick on many phones. If you’re rooted, though, you have a much better option: re-enable Android’s built-in hotspot features.

Unfortunately, the solution isn’t an “install this app and you’re done” kind of thing. You’re going to need to meet a couple of requirements first:

  • First, your phone must be rooted. If you’re not rooted, you’re automatically out on this one. You must have a rooted handset before this will work. If you’re not sure how to go about rooting, you should be able to search for instructions for your exact model phone.
  • Next, you must EITHER be running the Xposed framework. The Xposed framework unlocks a lot of incredibly powerful tools for Android, so it’s basically a must-have for rooted users. And with the launch of the new systemless Xposed framework and Material Design interface, it’s easier than ever to install and use. If you’re already an Xposed user, however, this will work just fine with the “older” system-modifying method as well.
  • OR be rooted with MagiskThis is basically a much cleaner, integrated alternative to Xposed. It does essentially all the same things, along with a built-in module manager and SuperSU.

Once you’re rooted and all set up with Xposed or Magisk, you’re only a few taps away from bypassing tethering verification.

Bypass Tethering Restrictions With Xposed

The first thing you need to do is jump into the Xposed Installer app, and then go to the “Download” option. In the “normal” Xposed interface, it’s the third option on the main screen (the image on the left). If you’re using the Material Design version of Xposed, open the hamburger menu in the top left to find the “Download” option (the image on the right).

Screenshot_20160721-103207 Screenshot_20160721-100414

In the “Download” menu, tap the magnifying glass in the upper right corner, and then search for “tether.” Scroll down until you see “X Tether”—that’s the option you want, so tap it.

Screenshot_20160721-100541

You can read the description here if you want, but otherwise just switch over to the “Versions” tab, and then tap the “Install” button for the newest version (in our test case, that’s version 1.4). You should jump straight to the installation menu. If it kicks back an error, make sure you have the “Unknown Sources” option enabled in Settings > Security, and then try again.

It’s also worth noting here that the application is actually called “Moto Tether” upon installing. Don’t worry about that—it should work just fine on non-Motorola devices, too.

Screenshot_20160721-101144 Screenshot_20160721-101211

Once the download has finished installing, Xposed pushes a notification saying that you need to reboot the device to active the module. Go ahead and tap the “Activate and Reboot” button.

Screenshot_20160721-101302

Bypass Tethering Restrictions with Magisk

If you’re using Magisk, the process is nearly identical to Xposed. Open the Magisk Manager, slide open the menu, and then choose the “Downloads” option.

Tap the magnifying glass in the upper right corner,and then search for “tethering enabler.”

 

When you’ve found the “Tethering Enabler” module, go ahead and tap the arrow next to the name to start the download. A dialog box asks if you want to download or install it—go ahead and install.

 

The zip file should download and automatically flash. Assuming everything goes well, this should only take a few seconds. You’ll need to reboot to activate the module, but after that you’re done.

How to Use These Tethering Tools

Neither of these tweaks actually provide a user interface—they just unblock Android’s built-in tethering features. After the phone is finished rebooting, jump into Settings > More > Tethering & Portable Hotspot to verify that tethering is indeed working. A quick tap of the “Portable Wi-Fi hotspot” button is all it takes—the tethering connection should fire right up.

Screenshot_20160721-101628

Just remember: use it, don’t abuse it.

Cameron Summerson is a die-hard Android fan, Chicago Bulls fanatic, metalhead, and cyclist. When he's not pounding keys here at HTG, you can find him spending time with his wife and kids, spinning legs on the bike, chugging away on the 6-string, or being disappointed in the Bulls.