UPDATE: Am I the only one who can't use an HTC ThunderBolt as a LTE WiFi hotspot?

UPDATE: Am I the only one who can't use an HTC ThunderBolt as a LTE WiFi hotspot?

Summary: The HTC ThunderBolt WiFi hotspot functionality connectivity issues may have been fixed with the latest firmware update, but there may still be people with issues.

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I posted on Friday that Verizon and HTC issued an update for the HTC ThunderBolt, but after testing in a strong 4G and 3G area I confirm that it did NOT fix the may have fixed the WiFi hotspot connection failures. Thus, if you are thinking of picking up a ThunderBolt to use as a stable WiFi hotspot then I recommend you reconsider that decision. If you just want an extremely fast smartphone connection on a snappy and solid device then the ThunderBolt serves that purpose well.

I have a Windows Phone 7 and Symbian smartphones so one of the primary reasons I purchased the ThunderBolt was to have a reliable LTE hotspot to use for podcastings and working on the road. I get a very reliable 3G connection with my Nokia N8 and had high hopes for the ThunderBolt. The LTE network is blazing fast, but I kept getting kicked off the network. I have now tried two HTC ThunderBolt phones and both exhibit the same behavior, even with the latest official update installed. I am still not sure if this is a LTE network issue or an HTC ThunderBolt issue, but it seems that the ThunderBolt could not handle the network properly when used as a hotspot. Thus, I am likely going to pay the Verizon ETF and stick with my stable HSPA+ service on T-Mobile. I may try to escalate the issue with Verizon since it really is not fair that I have to pay them an ETF for service that they promised and cannot deliver on.

The HTC ThunderBolt is an awesome Android smartphone and I loved using it with HTC Sense and all of the applications. It is also incrediblly fast on LTE when used just as a smartphone, but I want more than that out of the device. It seems that Verizon has extended the free WiFi hotspot service on the Droid Charge and HTC ThunderBolt from 15 May to 15 June, as reported on the Verizon community forums by a Verizon representative. I wonder if this extension is due to the poor stability of the hotspot at this time since there is no way in the world I would ever pay for service that does not work.

UPDATE: I went to the Verizon store to see about getting a new SIM as readers suggested, but of course my ThunderBolt worked perfectly in the store. I then switched off security (I tried this before too) and have been able to maintain a WiFi connection now for a couple hours so it must have just been a network issue this morning. The WiFi hotspot definitely seems to be working better than it was before the update and I have NOT experienced any of the random restarts that I have seen others talking about. Thus, I am keeping my ThunderBolt and will put it to the test this Friday with another MoTR podcast recording and hope that my WiFi hotspot troubles are behind me.

Topics: Mobility, Hardware, HTC, Networking, Smartphones, Verizon, Wi-Fi

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22 comments
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  • :(

    Sounds like its your phone or just YOU. I have no problems in Phx, AZ keeping my LTE connection. You state that you arent sure if its the phone or the network so why tell everyone to stay away from the phone?
    djsesso
    • Tested two phones and forum posts state same behavior

      @djsesso I have tested out two different phones in different geographic areas with the same behavior. There are also many forum posts that state the same thing. Believe me, I LOVE the ThunderBolt and badly wanted it to work out for me which is why I tested it extensively over a couple month period giving it the benefit of the doubt for quite some time. I just want to make sure people are aware and be cautioned that it may not live up to its billing.
      palmsolo (aka Matthew Miller)
      • RE: Don't buy an HTC ThunderBolt if you want to use it as a LTE WiFi hotspot

        @palmsolo (aka Matthew Miller)

        I've also had no issue with mine... are you *really* sure it isn't a case of faulty hardware or poor signal? The only oddity I've noticed is that after several hours in wifi hotspot mode, my phone gets rather warm to the touch.
        MattG987
      • Tried 2 devices, signal is strong in Seattle

        @MattG987 Verizon has full bars on 3G and 4G here in downtown Seattle and I have not been testing it on the fringe or anything. I really wish it was something as simple as a faulty device or signal, but neither appears to be the case.
        palmsolo (aka Matthew Miller)
      • RE: Don't buy an HTC ThunderBolt if you want to use it as a LTE WiFi hotspot

        @palmsolo (aka Matthew Miller) I have the thunderbolt and I had the same issue also changed out 4 phone until I found the underlying cause in which it was the sim card provisioning go to Verizon and have them swap sim cards not the phone
        chapman7161986
      • I will visit Verizon today

        @chapman7161986

        Thanks for the tip, this is the first I heard of the SIM card possibly being an issue. I will visit a Verizon store today and get it swapped out and report back on my findings. THANKS, I hope it works out since I love the device!
        palmsolo (aka Matthew Miller)
      • RE: Don't buy an HTC ThunderBolt if you want to use it as a LTE WiFi hotspot

        @palmsolo (aka Matthew Miller) well thats good to hear that its working but if it happens agian walk in there and tell them to swap the SIM no and or if buts about it. We pay alot for these phones and we also demand the service that comes with it that is why most people choose verizon because of reliablity of the network and the speed it offers us. One last thing the thunderbolt is verizons first SIM card phone thus it doesn't operate like an normal CDMA phone
        chapman7161986
  • RE: Don't buy an HTC ThunderBolt if you want to use it as a LTE WiFi hotspot

    I am frequently using my 4G hotspot throughout all of NYC. I have never lost my connection once. I was even able to hold 7 laptops without dropping one connection over the course of a 10 hour fantasy baseball draft. Sounds to me that it is a USER error. I know roughly 5 people with the Thunderbolt and have never had a problem. Don't write articles bashing something based on non-facts. Your data is clearly wrong, Matthew Miller.
    NMarco
    • Why would I make something up? Tested 2 and want it to work

      @NMarco I would say I went above and beyond by testing out two different ThunderBolt devices in different geographic areas and seeing the same behavior. According to other sources, such as Engadget (http://www.engadget.com/2011/03/21/is-your-thunderbolt-having-lte-mobile-hotspot-problems/), I am NOT the only one experiencing issues. If you listened to the last couple of MobileTechRoundup podcasts you would also hear where my LTE connection was lost in every podcast I tried to use it. I LOVE the ThunderBolt as a device and can't tell you how badly I wish I could keep it, but it just does not perform as a stable WiFi hotspot and this is a fact.
      palmsolo (aka Matthew Miller)
    • It's been reported on elsewhere

      @NMarco I listened to Matt on two occasions when he was podcasting. He definitely ran into issues with connectivity.

      I think this inability to hold a reliable signal has been reported elsewhere - most recently I spotted it 5/13 at Gottabemobile.
      anerpvar
  • Working in Boston

    I've been using the mobile hotspot feature extensively here in Boston (mostly streaming music services like Mog to my iPod Touch while at work) and it has worked fine through a couple dozen hours at least for me.

    I'm not doubting that you and others are experiencing issues, just pointing out that not everyone is having them. I hope HTC/Verizon fixes your issues soon! I'm really loving my Thunderbolt so far, and this feature is one of the reasons.

    -Eddie
    ed_yasi
  • RE: Don't buy an HTC ThunderBolt if you want to use it as a LTE WiFi hotspot

    Once again Matt, I have to disagree... I have the thunderbolt and have been on it for hours without ever getting dropped! It works great!
    slickjim
  • Options

    I am not having issues with my Thunderbolt either in NYC. Might I suggest a wired tether feature until the Gingerbread update instead of paying the absurd ETF?
    hoaxoner
  • RE: Don't buy an HTC ThunderBolt if you want to use it as a LTE WiFi hotspot

    Not even checking the possibility of a SIM card issue? Hardly above and beyond, did you even try to contact Verizon, or just check other posts from people who incorrectly identify this as a hardware issue/software issue?
    NMarco
    • Verizon told me the SIM card has nothing to do with it

      @NMarco I just returned from the store and couldn't get them to swap my SIM and of course it worked perfectly at the store with an iPad. I may try another store to try out the SIM card swap. Remember not too many Verizon phones have SIM cards so I didn't consider this as a variable.
      palmsolo (aka Matthew Miller)
      • RE: Don't buy an HTC ThunderBolt if you want to use it as a LTE WiFi hotspot

        @palmsolo (aka Matthew Miller) If you want to see if it is switching between 3G and 4G try these tests...<br><br>Dial ##778# then press call<br><br>Enter 000000 for the edit mode password<br><br>Once in there go to modem Settings and change the Rev. A field to enabled... then commit your changes (the phone will reboot.<br><br>If it doesn't break there then reset the modem eHRPD and try the following command...<br><br>*#*#4636#*#* and go into Phone Information where you can set the preffered network mode to full time LTE.
        slickjim
      • RE: Don't buy an HTC ThunderBolt if you want to use it as a LTE WiFi hotspot

        @palmsolo (aka Matthew Miller) Oh and if it still bounces you with eHRPD off then it isn't the 4G switching...

        If it doesn't bounce you and you set it to LTE mode and it still doesn't bounce you then try the newer 3G mode by using *#*#4636#*#* and going into and setting your preferred network to CDMA Auto (PRL)... if this bounces you it is the weak ass 3G compatible network (which sucks compared to Verizons original 3G network.
        slickjim
      • Verizon 4G

        @palmsolo (aka Matthew Miller) I don't know if you heard but Verizon is having a lot of trouble with their 4G in some areas, constant signal drops and slow speeds, watch the youtube video on the htc thunderbolt posted by phonedog he addresses this issue in his review. This may be the problem not the phone or user
        jmi0480
  • RE: Don't buy an HTC ThunderBolt if you want to use it as a LTE WiFi hotspot

    I use it extensively when I travel as my wifi solution rather than paying for hotels to use theirs which is always slow and this thing is flawless. Must be user error.
    cabikeboy
    • Benefit of the doubt...

      @cabikeboy Using the hotspot is dead simple, so I'd say we should give Matthew the benefit of the doubt here and assume there is an issue, but he's just one of the unlucky few to suffer from it!
      ed_yasi