Personal Hotspot lets you share a devices cellular data connection with other devices or computers by turning a device into a wi-fi router, and it’s easily one of the better features of the iPhone and cellular iPad models (and Android phones for that matter). The iOS Personal Hotspot usually functions without a hitch, but sometimes the connection can appear flakey and connected devices will drop off the network completely, or have intermittent connection drops with significant packet loss.
This is likely a software problem that will be addressed in future iOS updates, but in the meantime there’s a fairly simple fix that seems to resolve the issue completely for clients who are experiencing dropped connections. The trick? Set the network configurations yourself, which prevents Personal Hotspot from assigning DHCP information to clients, and seems to resolve the intermittent connection problems completely.
From the Device Running Personal Hotspot
You’ll obviously need Personal Hotspot enabled on the device acting as a wi-fi router. Turn on the feature through Settings as usual, and then proceed with the following steps from the client devices (client, meaning the devices that are connecting to the wi-fi Personal Hotspot). Remember that some carriers include Personal Hotspot for free with their plans, while others do not and charge extra for the feature.
From the Personal Hotspot Client Devices
This works for all client devices that are experiencing connectivity issues with Personal Hotspot, and appears to be completely carrier agnostic, meaning whether you’re using AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, Bell, or whoever else, it shouldn’t matter. We’ll break down the steps for the most common wifi hotspot clients for iOS on the iPad, iPhone and iPod touch, as well as Mac and Windows.
For iOS devices:
- Open “Settings” and tap “Wi-Fi”, join the Personal Hotspot wi-fi network as usual
- Now tap the “(i)” button to get more information on the network, make note of the network details under “IP Address”, including the IP, subnet mask, router, and DNS
- Now tap the “Static” tab and enter in an IP address higher in the range than what was set in the prior step, enter the router and subnet mask so it is the same, and set DNS (you may want to use 126.96.36.199 for Google’s DNS servers, it’s easy to remember and very fast)
You’ve just set a manual IP with DHCP, circumventing the DHCP servers automatic assignments which seem to be the source of the connection troubles. Exit out of Settings and enjoy Personal Hotspot as usual.
On a side note, you may be able to temporarily remedy the solution by renewing the DHCP lease or resetting network settings on the iOS device, but in our experience it will eventually suffer from the same dropped connection and packet loss. Thus you’ll want to go with the static IP approach, it works.
From Mac clients running OS X:
- Join the Personal Hotspot network as usual
- Open System Preferences from the Apple menu and go to “Network”, select the Wi-Fi connection from the left then choose “Advanced”
- Choose the “TCP/IP” tab, and pull down “Configure IPv4″ submenu to select “Using DHCP with manual address”
- Fill in the appropriate details for IP, subnet mask, router, and DNS
If you have configured a static IP before this will be familiar to you. Be sure to set an IP higher in the range to avoid IP conflicts. As mentioned above with iOS, you may want to use 188.8.131.52 for DNS servers, they are from Google and are typically very fast.
For Windows clients:
- Go to the Start menu > Control Panel > Network and Sharing > choose “View network properties”
- Right-click the Personal hotspot wi-fi network and choose “Properties” then go to the “Networking” tab, then select “Internet Protocol version 4 TCp/IP ipV4″ and choose “Properties”
- Select “Use the following IP address” and fill in the IP address, subnet mask, default gateway settings, then choose “OK
Exit out of all of that and launch web browser to confirm Personal Hotspot is working as expected, and enjoy.
That covers just about every device possible that would be connecting to Personal Hotspot, so you should be on your way sharing the internet connection as usual without any dropping or packet loss problems. Curiously, similar issues in OS X have appeared fairly often throughout the years from DHCP automatic assignments, and the solution is almost always to just set manual DHCP information. These type of issues are usually resolved with minor software updates, so the issue may be resolved in the future without having to configure any settings as outlined above.