Where do we most often use mobile hotspots? You know, those slick little devices that connect up to 5 wireless machines to the Internet? While we're travelling, at conferences, at hotels...generally in places where lots of other people are also using hotspots. If you've recently purchased Verizon's Samsung 4G LTE hotspot, then busy locations may be precisely where you can't use them. Read on to find out why and to get a workaround.
I learned about the issue the hard way this morning as I was setting up for a trade show with the day job. Instead of paying trade show Internet access prices, we (like hundreds of people around us) were using mobile hotspots. Our connection dropped a few times yesterday, but overall things worked fairly well. This morning, however, I had a solid 4G connection on both of my hotspots, but absolutely no WiFi. No light, no SSID broadcast, nothing. The hotspot built into my phone still worked, but it wouldn't be adequate for my needs today, so I quickly Googled the problem.
Several posts on Verizon forums pointed to problems with frequent disconnects and/or a complete inability to connect via WiFi in areas saturated with other hotspots. This particular issue is only being reported with the Samsung device. The devices work very well in areas with few other hotspots. In fact, they're incredibly fast and are being pushed by Verizon as superior to Verizon's own 4G MiFi (which also happens to be half the price).
Working around the problem That's right - this is just a workaround. Neither Samsung nor Verizon has fixed this problem, although apparently Verizon has sent out many replacement units (which still suffer from the same uselessness in crowded areas).
The root of the problem is that the Samsung hotspots can't negotiate a WiFi broadcast channel in areas where many other devices are attempting to do the same. Thus, the device needs to be moved to an unsaturated area, restarted (and occasionally reset), and then manually set to a specific channel.
To do so, once you are in an unsaturated area and can connect to the device via WiFi,
- Log into the control panel (at http://192.168.1.1)
- Enter the password (located under the cover
- Click the Network tab
- Click the WiFi button
- Scroll down and click the Manual configuration tab
- Change the broadcast channel from Auto to a specific number (most forums are recommending "11 for example" so be sure to pick another number than 11 to avoid the folks who have been Googling as feverishly as I was this morning)
So there you have it. Imperfect, but still fast, even in saturated areas (I'm streaming video from 5 computers as we speak via 2 hotspots with this fix applied). Good luck and, as usual, enjoy that top notch service and support from Verizon .