Straight Talk prepaid wireless plans do not include personal hotspot or portable hotspot. Straight Talk does not offer this feature with any their phone plans. Some of you reading this might be surprised by this especially if you have been using personal hotspot with Straight Talk. If you are reading this, you may have been using hotspot with Straight Talk for weeks, months, or even years and suddenly find that it has stopped working.
I Don’t Know How You Can Enable or “Fix” Your Hotspot If It Isn’t Working…
Before going any further I want to let you know the this article is not about how to get hotspot working with Straight Talk. If you are not able to turn on hotspot or yours suddenly stopped working, I don’t know how you can get it working. I am not aware of any tips, tricks, hacks, or apps that will help. In the rest of this article I’ll explain what I know about Straight Talk and hotspot. While you might not like what you read here, it may clear up some things you did not know.
Hotspot Isn’t Included
First and most importantly, Straight Talk does not include hotspot with any of their prepaid wireless phone plans. Straight Talk points this out on straighttlak.com before you buy a phone, and more importantly in their terms and conditions of service.
What is really confusing is that some Straight Talk customers are able to turn on and use hotspot on their phones. Not all Straight Talk customers, but some. Because hotspot works in these cases, many of these customers are not aware that the feature isn’t included as part of their plan. Most recently customers report that their hotspot suddenly stop working. Others report receiving warnings to stop using hotspot, some have their data services temporarily suspended, and it some cases customers have their service terminated.
Hotspot Works for Some Customers, But Not Everyone
As I said some Straight Talk customers are able to turn on and use hotspot while others are not. In my experience Straight Talk customers that have Android phones and use Straight Talk’s Verizon towers are the ones most likely to be able to use hotspot, this is the only combinations that ever worked for me. When you sign up for Straight Talk, you phone might be using their AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, or Sprint towers. Also you might be using an iPhone or and Android phone, so there are a number of possible combinations that would need to be checked. I tried four combinations of iPhone, Android, AT&T and Verizon towers, only Verizon and Android worked for me. Your experience may be different, consider leaving a reply below and share what did and did not work for you.
Here is My Advice If You Want or Need Hotspot
So you may be wondering what can you do. My advice is that you want hotspot, choose a wireless provider that includes the feature as part of their plans, or offers it as an add-on feature. I’d also recommend that you let Straight Talk know that you changed carriers because they do not have the feature and you’d like to see them offer it. While you are free to communicate as you see fit, I’d recommend you do this politely over social media. Based on the comments I have received here and on YouTube I know many people are angry and upset about losing hotspot or not being able to use it at all. My opinion that if you switch to their competitors and let them know why they may re-evalulate adding the feature to their plans. I wrote another article about prepaid wireless and hotspot, check out Prepaid Wireless and Portable or Personal Hotspotto learn about your options.
Should You Use Your Hotspot If It Works..
Many people ask me if they should use their hotspot if it works. Others are adamant that they will use hotspot for as long as it works. The choice is up to you and hopefully you can make an informed decision after reading this article. Just know that if you rely on having hotspot, it may eventually end up disabled. You may be warned, suspended, or terminated. If your hotspot doesn’t work, Straight Talk’s customer service will not assist you. When I tell some people that it violates the Straight Talk’s terms of service agreement, they assume I am implying they will be sued or arrested, it’s not the case. You a violating the terms of a business agreement, not criminal law. I’ll add the usual, “I am not a lawyer” disclaimer here.
For the remainder of the article I want to share some additional information. Note that is 2019, I do not use Straight Talk myself, the service does not meet my needs, not because they don’t include hotspot, but because my needs for cellular data are much more modest.
I don’t know why Straight Talk does not include hotspot with their plans. Perhaps, they know it will lead to higher data usage and that it will cost them more money, in fact if they pay for that additional data, they might even lose money of the many subscribers that use hotspot. Further, we don’t know the terms of their business arrangements with AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile and those companies might contractually prohibit its use. Most prepaid wireless companies that do offer hotspot only allow for a fixed amount of high speed data usage with hotpsot (5GB, 10GB, 15GB, for example). I regularly hear from Straight Talk customers using >100GB of data per month, using their hotspot to replace home broadband connections. Many people use it for gaming, which often requires huge downloads.
In addition to the costs of providing “unlimited” hotspot, there is also a performance impact on the cellular network. My understanding is that each cell in a 4G LTE network can only handle a relatively small number of devices. The 4G LTE network isn’t set up for offering home broadband connections and using it that way impacts the performance of the network. Again, this is my understanding base on what I’ve read online, I do not have a background in wireless telecommunications.
Also, a number of people believe that Straight Talk is “ripping them off” by not including hotspot and believe because they paid for a plan they are entitled to hotspot. I understand that many people feel this way, but it isn’t how this works. Straight Talk offers the plans and when you sign up you agree to their terms and conditions of service. You agree and pay, or you don’t sign up. This angers some people, but I wish consumers would realize the amount of power you have as the paying customer. They want your money. When enough people take their business elsewhere, they will get the message.
I also receive a fair number of comments telling me that it “illegal” for Straight Talk to prevent you from using hotspot. I am not aware of any such law. Most comments never provide any details or references to said laws or rulings. Based on my research I believe they may be referring to a consent decree between Verizon and the FCC. You can read more about that here FCC to Verizon: Don’t block tethering apps. Verizon settles for $1.25M.
While I am not aware of it, it is entirely possible that Straight Talk’s terms and conditions of service do violate FCC regulations or even customer laws. Even if this is true, what recourse does the average consumer have. I suppose you could start a class-action law suit, and if successful, Straight Talk customers would have access to hotspot and may receive a few dollars each in compensation. To me, it isn’t worth my time or effort, but you may feel differently.
If you have any additional questions or have some information to share, leave a reply below. Also feel free to check out the comments left by other readers and Straight Talk customers.
I discuss some of these points in this older YouTube video but this article is newer and more up to date.