Using Personal Hotspot with Straight Talk

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.

More details

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.

277 Comments

  1. Tony | | Reply

    Straight talk should not sell phone that haves hot spots on them if they can not let people use the hot spots

    • Bob Thompson | | Reply

      From many the comments, I have received it certainly does confuse and anger their customers. Personally, I think it’s better to just switch to a service that does include hotspot, and not worry about what Straight Talk does or doesn’t do.

  2. Michael Pruitt | | Reply

    i really dont like them knowing so much about my phone and what i use it for. seems like an invasion of privacy to me

    • Bob Thompson | | Reply

      I value when me readers share their opinions and perspectives here, and there are many. Your cellular carrier, internet service provider, and the content providers you use know a lot about you. Heck even most banks want to sell information about you. In this case, they are detecting that you are using hotspot and are using that information to warn or terminate you for violating the terms of service. I am sure every wireless carrier tracks if and how much hotspot their customers use to enforce quotas, manage network traffic, and for network resource planning.

  3. Allan | | Reply

    Im not sure if this was already posted but why is it even a stock feature in a brand new phone SOLD BY straight talk if they don’t support it? I’d understand if it was a downloadable app but it’s not. Again… It’s stock.
    Is straight talk not responsible for the features of the phones that they sell?

    • Bob Thompson | | Reply

      I’d say no.
      A number of people have made this point, but the fact that a phone has a feature doesn’t change the terms and conditions of service you agreed to. For example, you could use the built in phone dialer to call a number and create a continuous month long connection and that would violate your terms of service. Pretty much all iPhones and Android phones have hotspot as a feature in the phone’s software. In some cases, the carrier can disable it through configuration. For whatever reason, on some combinations of phone and Straight Talk towers they don’t seem to prevent this up front. I tried four out of the at least 8 different combinations of towers and phone OSes, and hotpsot only worked on one.

      Personally, I think that fact that hotspot works at all on some of their phones not only costs them a lot of money, but also a huge amount of resentment from their customers. Believe me, I’ve heard it from many.

      More to your point, If Straight Talk was trying to criminally prosecute customer for “theft of service” for using hotspot, it would be a different story. You could easily show that given the feature works on said phone and that they didn’t more clearly communicate that hotspot isn’t included it would be hard to justify such a “theft” claim or a civil liability claim . But this isn’t a criminal or even a civil matter, they are simply terminating their business relationship with their customers.

  4. Elle Bea | | Reply

    Thank you for this explanation. I didn’t even know the hotspot wasnt included in their plan. Shouldve read the fine print, I guess. I never got a message or warning or anything about the hotspot being disabled, but that would explain why it spontaneously stopped working and no fixes I’ve tried have worked. Ah well. Time to go with a different service and let them know they lost another customer.

    Thanks for the article! Answered a lot of frustrating questions.

    • Bob Thompson | | Reply

      Elle,
      Thanks for the comment. It’s refreshing to get a rational response. If you require unlimited hotspot, check out visible. See my video.
      You’ll have more options if you only need a fixed amount of data.

  5. Brandon | | Reply

    I have a very critical internet business. Losing internet connection even for a couple of minutes could cost me thousands. Lately my modem has been crashing. I have the dreaded frontier. It’s my only internet option. However, my phone has speeds of up to 80mb and is a very reliable connection. This compares favorably to the choppy frontier connection of 10mb tops. What is the best company for tethering? I think the tower here is Verizon but not sure.

    • Bob Thompson | | Reply

      Ok. So it sounds like you want to go wit Visible. Keep in mind that their unlimited plan’d hotspot id 5mbps down and allows one device to use hotspot at a time. I don’t know if they enforce that or not.

      If AT&T has service in your area, a company called net buddy has unlimited hotspot only service.

      Here is tip about frontier though. If you are using their DSL and you router / modem is really old the crashing may be caused by overheating. I replaced one in one case and it solved that problem. Frontier is also rolling out fios in some areas. There are federal mandates / incentives to improve broadband connectivity in rural areas.

  6. Brandon | | Reply

    After reading all the comments I decided to switch to VISIBLE. Now I’m going to save $22 a month and get unlimited hotspot! They turned off my hotspot feature after having it for a year I use mine for Netflix, Vudu, gaming and etcetera. Looks like they will be at the bottom like someone else said. F*** them and I just took my business somewhere else and saved money as well. Oh yeah, they offer free next-day shipping and they give you a free phone to if your phone is not compatible with their service!!!!###

  7. Brianna | | Reply

    I was cut off today after 6 months. I had a cheap android phone from straight talk that I was using just for the hot spot.I dont know who the carrier was. My primary phone is on Verizon and you only get 15gb before you’re throttled and that goes fast with them. Wish I would have seen this article sooner

  8. Brooks Johnson | | Reply

    The only thing straight talk is going to do is loose all there customers for taking our stuff away I know me and 5 others are going to boost mobile because straight talk is a dirty scum. Taking our hotspots away .we will only stay as customers only if we get our hotspots back

    • Bob Thompson | | Reply

      I would encourage you to choose a carrier that offers hotspot and the other features you need. Vote with your business. You might be interested in Visible, see my video https://youtu.be/C6AlXyS93B4

  9. Mark McGee | | Reply

    I have a Straight Talk Android and I buy the $55 month plan, using AT&T tower and the hotspot works. I used my hotspot to watch movies and shows on my smart TV. After using it for 2 months, I got a warning from Straight Talk stating if I continued to use my phone a hotspot, they would cancel my service… Straight Talk sold this phone with the hotspot option and i pay for the service, my question is, how the hell can this be legal?

    • Bob Thompson | | Reply

      I’m not sure why it would be illegal. Straight Talk doesn’t include hotspot with their plans, they prohibit its use in their terms of service. The fact that it worked on your phone isn’t really relevant. You could make a phone call and leave it connected all month or maybe install an app on your phone that sends automated text messages both of these activities would violate your those terms and they could cancel your service.

      When you signed up for Straight Talk, you agreed to the terms of service. your two choices were to agree and pay, or don’t agree and choose another service. Of course I think it would be better if Straight Talk included hotspot with their plans. I don’t know why they don’t. I don’t know what business arrangements they have with AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, and Sprint. Perhaps those carriers have prohibited it as part of their agreement or the cost to Straight Talk is too high.

      Many other prepaid wireless services included a least a fixed amount of hotspot with some of their plans. The only company I am aware of that offers unlimited hotspot is Visible which restricts the speeds to 5Mbps per second and only allows one tethered device. The other companies typically only give you a fixed amount of GB for use with hotspot.

      All this said, Straight Talk should make it much clearer that their plans do not include hotspot. Both AT&T and Verizon prepaid offer FAQ sections on their websites that describe the features included, Straight Talk does not.

      Based on my understanding the 4G LTE networks in the US are not set up for consumers to use their cellular data to replace home broadband connections. From what I’ve read, this quickly saturates cell towers and degrades service for all. I don’t know how much data you expected to use with hotspot, but I regularly hear from consumers who expect to replace their homebrand band connection an use 100GBs of data per month over hotspot. To me, I don’t see how would be a viable business, with the existing technology.

      As far as I know, the terms and conditions of Straight Talk’s plans do not violate any consumer laws or government regulations. They might, they were sued in the past, for not making it clear enough that the data speeds on their unlimited plans was reduced to 2G speeds after using a fixed amount of data. People sued and won a class action law suit, many consumers received a $7 settlement check.

      In my experience most phones that Straight Talk sells use the Verizon towers, but it is possible in your area they sell phones that use the AT&T towers. I’ve only every seen hotspot work on Straight Talk’s Verizon towers with Android phones. Never worked with ATT towers for me.

      If you need a hotspot for home, a company called net buddy offers a $60 unlimited hotspot service, it doesn’t include phone service, just hotspot but it does use the AT&T network.

  10. Charles | | Reply

    Just got cut of after using it for over 2 months on a galaxy j7 crown. I called because it wasnt working. thanks for the free netflix cheap bastards.

    PS: dont know what tower I’m using. If someone can show me how to check that would be awesome

    • Bob Thompson | | Reply

      If you bought the phone from Straight Talk its likely the Verizon towers, the easiest way to know for sure is to ask Straight Talk in an online chat. Tell them your phone number and ask which towers it users.

  11. Ernest Perry | | Reply

    Get ready to be at the bottom of the food chain because everyone loves to use hotspot from there phone and for you not to support hotspot is really saying that you just don’t want to have happy customers

    • Bob Thompson | | Reply

      I’d encourage you to share your opinion with Straight Talk. I doubt they even know about smartphonematters.com, much less read the comments here. Most other prepaid wireless companies allow a fixed amount of high data with some if not all their plans.

      The only prepaid company I am aware of that includes unlimited hotspot is Visible and they set restrictions on the download speed and only allow one device to be connected at a time.

      Straight Talk still may be a viable option for people who don’t want or need hotspot, many people don’t

      If you do want hotspot, choose a carrier that offers the feature.

  12. Lisa Mitchell | | Reply

    I have a lg stylo 4 with straight talk I just bought this phone last month still new I was able use my mobile hotspot but now I can’t it shows on my phone that the device is connected but on the device says it connected but no internet how can I fix this problem?

    • Bob Thompson | | Reply

      Lisa,
      As stated in the article. You signed up for a service that doesn’t include mobile hotspot. For whatever the reason, it they were unable to block you from using the feature on your phone when you bought it but know Straight Talk has corrected their problem. You can read through the remaining comments on this article and my Youtube videos to see if someone has shared a way to do it circumvent this or search the internet but I am not aware of one.

      My recommendation would be to use a service that includes hotspot, which unfortunately isn’t Straight Talk.

  13. Cheryl Johnston | | Reply

    I have a Android rebel 4 phone was using to play fortnight on PlayStation 4 been using for about a year play 2 hrs weekdays off an on not everyday consistently and about 4 + hours on weekends all the sudden not able to reach severs with playstation I initially thought an outage but no can’t be I have 55$ unlimited plan answer I assumed sense it was connecting and not disabled in someway it was fine but I believe I’m gonna find another carrier my self apparently cause they say non refundable and they Jack your minutes trying to enable old phone number it’s ok to steal money that way but at least know who not to use for phone service any more unlimited does not mean unlimited even if it is declared on the service card in big bold writing which is deception

    • Bob Thompson | | Reply

      I encourage all my readers to carefully review the features and terms of service of any prepaid wireless service they sign up for. Many prepaid wireless plans include a fixed amount of high speed data with there plans. I am not aware of any company that offers truly unlimited use of high speed data with hotspot. The closest I have seen is visible wireless but they restrict the speeds to 5Mbps and other allow one tethered device at a time. The only other alternative I am aware of is net buddy.co which offers an unlimited hotspot service for $60 per month but it is a hotspot service, and does not include phone service.

  14. DOUGLAS H HAMNER | | Reply

    Technically by doing this Tracfone is violating FCC guidelines regarding net neutrality and the freedom to use personal phone features and purchased data. Verizon already has been fined for doing this.

    • Bob Thompson | | Reply

      Thanks for the comment
      Several people have stated this before but never includes a link to information supporting that claim. I did some research on it once, and all I could find was that in 2012 the FCC ruled that Verizon had could not charge extra for hotspot because it violated the rules for the C Block spectrum they licensed. not sure if, how, or why that would apply to other carriers.

  15. Swim | | Reply

    J3 orbit works

    • Bob Thompson | | Reply

      Yes some work, use excessively and you may hear from ST.

  16. TomO | | Reply

    The mobile providers have specific devices and plans for hotspot or tethering. Verizon will cap at 15 GB then throttle you to 600K speed when data > 15GB. Even if you have unlimited.

    Bottom line is there is limited band width for cellular network. The capacity < demand. It has to be governed. Partly because of the laws of physics, Packets must ultimately pass through cables and chips on their journey between source and consumer. And partly because of cost to cover peaks and valleys of demand.
    5G should help remote last mile users, but until then it will be expensive to get hotspot for 24/7 use-cases for entire month cycle.

    Hotspots are routed differently, When tethering your phone, the route is different than if you are viewing the web site on you phone. This helps cell phone provider manage cellular traffic more efficiently. This is how caps can be enforced too.

    I think half the problem is the content providers and advertisers assume unlimited and infinite capacity. To many pages are flooded with video ads which go 90% unviewed yet fill the limited bandwidth. This creates needlessly low data caps or worse cause user to quick use-up their limits.

    I live in rural area where my only option are Hughsnet or Verizon hotspot. Both are expensive above 15GB. If I move my 'browsing' to my phone instead of tethering, I am OK but do not like small screen. At some point 5G will rescue us 'last-mile' remote users but until then we have to live with caps and by movies on CD.

    • Bob Thompson | | Reply

      Some good points. A number of the people commenting here expect to get unlimited hotspot data on the Straight Talk plan. Even Verizon prepaid removed hotspot from their newest unlimited plans where they previously had unlimited 600kbps. I’d be pretty bummed out if my neighbors were using hotspot for home use on the same cellular network as me.

      I hope 5G solves this long term. I have my doubts. Residents of rural areas have it tough. I’ve watched a few stories about people with line of sight setting up long distance Wi-Fi links and even one story about a guy who built his own wireless ISP. Not an option for those in the wilderness unless you have line of sight to hills.

  17. Bane | | Reply

    Seems to me ST is more aggressive this year on the unlimited plan users. But I’ve noticed something. Seems to me that those who get shut off or get a warning text happens between 8am-11:45pm Est, and if they’re currently using hot-spot when that happens. I’ve received a warning between those hours. Since then I’ve been only using hot-spot outside of those hours. Decided to test this out after reading YouTube comments. So far so good. For now.

    • Bob Thompson | | Reply

      I’ve seen a bunch of theories, you could be right but I suspect that it’s more complicated then that. I would not be surprised to find out that the methods for detecting hotspot are provided by AT&T, Verizon, and T-mobile and change over time.
      And after usage is detected Straight Talk probably have their own systems for taking action with the consumer.

      • Bane | | Reply

        Yeah, most likely, but right now I’m in a testing phase. Don’t know if this’ll actually work. I know I’m on their radar, or at least I think I am. Worth a shot.

        • Bob Thompson | | Reply

          I think if you look through the comments here and on my two youtube videos other people share some of their thoughts on this.

  18. Lacy | | Reply

    Not only that, but they suspended my service today under the premise that I had been using mobile Hotspot. I’ve NEVER used any device that I’ve owned, off or on their network as a Hotspot. The only thing that I can think of is that they are viewing my Bluetooth connected watch as using the phone as a hotspot… And I’m not even sure how they would do that. I’ve used a whopping 4 gig of data since my service plan started 3 weeks ago.

    • Bob Thompson | | Reply

      Sorry toi hear that. Thanks for sharing this . I have wondered about this. When I read the terms of service, it could be interpreted in such a way that you couldn’t connect a watch to your phone. It is surprising however that you are being suspended when you have used so little data. My I ask, what functions you are using from your watch? So they completely cut you off? Or you have no dat until the next month?

  19. Tony Garcia | | Reply

    Can ST actually tell if you’ve used hot-spot when they review your account after using 60 GB? Or will they just assume you’ve been using it?

    • Bob Thompson | | Reply

      There are ways to tell. Some here have claimed they were falsely accused after consistently using more than 60GB.

      • Tony Garcia | | Reply

        So in some ways they can’t actually tell. They just go by if you’ve consistently been using more than 60 GB. Because a few days ago they sent me a warning during hot-spot use when I haven’t even reached 60 GB yet. I think they can see if you’re currently using it, but can’t 100% tell if you’ve used it at all. I have this theory that I’m working on. I’ve been using hot-spot during non operating hours a few days now and I’m still here.

        • Bob Thompson | | Reply

          If you are not using a VPN, it’s a pretty easy to detect. If you are it’s harder. Some one in the comments here or on YouTube had all sorts of theories about this. Personally, I’d say if you need hotspot choose a carrier that offers it.

        • Jessica | | Reply

          I can go look under my data usage and see exactly what I have used for mobile data, wifi, mobile hotspot, and bluetooth tethering on my phone. So I’m sure straight talk can tell what is used where. I didn’t have any issues using mine for months until I finally went over 60 GB and now my hotspot turns on, but devices say no internet. I’m not mad though. It clearly states in their agreement it’s not supported and your service could be terminated. Do I think it should be supported, yes, but i don’t run the company & personally for me they have had the best service. If I go to a provider that supports it but I don’t get good service that kind of defeats the point.

          • Bob Thompson | |

            Jessica,
            Props to you for understanding the concept of “terms of service”. Check out my videos and articles on visible.

  20. Regina | | Reply

    When I was at Walmart I specifically asked if I could use Straight Talk as a mobile hotspot and they said yes. That was a waste of money. I was told by the fake tech support that they did not allow that because they did not know what people was doing on their laptops.

    EXCUSE ME? What I do on my laptop for school is none of their business. When I told the fake tech support that it was fraudulent by not putting the information on the box of the phone, she said goodbye. Before she hung up I called her a Bitch and she said that I was not allowed to use profanity and I told her that she was not allowed to practice fraud and I hung up.

    I will not be renewing my service with Straight Talk again. According to this fraudulent company, that is ok with them.

    • Bob Thompson | | Reply

      You did the right thing by asking the Walmart employee if the plan you were buying included hotspot. Unfortunately, it seems that all not all walmart employees are educated on these plans. I’d report it to the the head of the electronics department in that store. However, I don’t agree with most of what else you have to say. Not listing unsupported features on the box isn’t fraud. While you are free to treat people however you want, I am often shocked by the comments I read from people describing how they treat customer support people.

      The fact is that Straight Talk doesn’t offer hotspot. I encourage anyone needing that feature to give their business to prepaid wireless company that does.

      That said, I see you have a “mean girls” vibe going on there. Maybe you can add Straight Talk to your burn book.

  21. BlakHawk | | Reply

    I also just today after years of hotspot usage out of the blue received a text from straight talk that my data was going to be disabled. I took this plan as I live in rural mountainous region of the country and have no access to affordable high speed. Recently we purchase another smart device for my 12 yo step daughter and she connected to my hotspot on my plan running my data from 20 gig a month up to 60 gig and getting me on the radar.

    • Bob Thompson | | Reply

      That’s unfortunate. If AT&T has coverage in yoyur area, look at me video about netbuddy.

  22. Alex W | | Reply

    I also just got a warning text today from straight talk about my hotspot, it’s strange that this is the first time I’ve seen them do this in general. Before they’d cut people off, I’m literally on my last day of this plan and hesitant on getting next months for the fact of them outright disabling my data at the start and I lose $60 for nothing.

    • Bob Thompson | | Reply

      Consider switching to a prepaid wireless service that supports hotspot if you need that feature. Did they cut you off?

    • Antonio Jesus Garcia | | Reply

      What time of day did you get that warning? Approximately.

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