How to share unlimited 4G data with your router

Over the last year, unlimited 4G plans have become easier to find, at least in the United States. Wireless carriers are understanding that people are more interested than ever in getting the best value for money. This is why, the option of using 4G unlimited data for your home online connection sounds very appealing. It would save you the hassle of paying for two separate services. In the past, you had to enable your phone’s WiFi hotspot feature, which has limited range and drains your battery life. Thankfully, there are two alternatives that are more efficient and that will allow you to take full advantage of your 4G connection.

The first option is to tether your phone directly to the router with the help of a USB cable. This keeps the phone charged and allows your router to look after the heavier part of the process. It should be noted that this solution is only effective when you use the official tethering method supported by your carrier. Although it may also work if your phone is rooted. With this method, it is possible to connect the router directly to a VPN so that your mobile provider can’t throttle your connection and slow down your streaming activities.

The second method works for all router types, or unofficial tethering apps. In this case, you can tether your phone to a computer using a USB cable and then you can share the tethered connection to the router using an ethernet cable. The method is effective with almost all routers and it works with third party tethering apps such as PdaNet, which helps users to bypass tethering data caps on unlimited plans. We will take a closer look at both methods so that you can enjoy your 4G connection in your router.

In this guide, we will take a look at the methods and all the information that you need to enjoy the advantages of tethering your phone directly to your router, rather than using the phone’s WiFi hotspot option.Let’s start with the reasons why you should do this.

First of all, you can get better range. When you use the hotspot feature, the range is limited and it is unlikely that you can cover a large space and get the best possible speeds. If you live in a big house, you will probably not be able to enjoy the full range across your entire home.

In addition, you can have greater control over the routing settings of a hotspot. When you have a true router, you can access strong features such as custom DNS settings, port forwarding and VPN protection. There are even routers that allow you to run a home cloud servers, Bittorrent client or a VPN server to get remote access to your network.

Running your phone as a 4G hotspot on a daily basis will affect the durability of your phone. This is a demanding task that will have an impact on your mobile device, but if you tether the connection to a router via USB, the router handles all the heavy work and it also keeps your phone charged.

Last but not least, this method lets you bypass hotspot data caps. The majority of plans (even those claiming to be unlimited) still place caps on the hotspot usage. Thankfully, there are options that let you use the official tethering feature on these plans. You can even tether with the help of an app that doesn’r really use your hotspot data, such as PDAnet.

When it comes to routers that support 4G tethering, it has to be said that the only manufacturer that offer this option by default is Asus. All Asus routers that run the exclusive ASUSWRT firmware can tether to your 3G/4G phone and share its data connection to Android. The only two other firmware options that allow tethering are DD-WRT and OpenWRT, but these have to be manually installed on the routers. The process of installing them is called flashing, but if you try it, there is a risk that you may damage the router if you don’t follow the process correctly. This is why it is recommended to get an ASUSWRT router, or a router that has been already flashed with DD-WRT. ASUSWRT and pre-flashed routers are more expensive than the standard, but they are the most convenient options.

Option 1 – Tether phone to ASUS router

The first thing to note is that this method will only work for the native USB tethering option on Android devices. It is not possible to use third-party apps like Foxfi or PDAnet with this method. If you have an unlimited plan that doesn’t offer tethering officially, you can use the signal refresher app. Below, you will find the steps to tether the phone to ASUS.

1. Go to the ASUSWRT control panel

Open the web browser and go to the router’s local IP address, which is 192.168.1.1 by default. If you have connected two or more routers, your ASUS router could be on a different subnet, such as 192.168.2.1. If you don’t know which is the right IP address, open cmd.exe, in Windows and type ‘ipconfig’. After that, scroll down until you see the connection method that is used to connect to your router, which would be WiFi or Ethernet and search for the Default gateway and enter that IP address in your web browser. Then, you just have to sign into the ASUSWRT control panel that you setup when you initially got the router. If you never changed your login/password, then the login details will be admin/admin.

2. Open USB Application settings

You will see different settings sections on the left side of your control panel. Go to the General section and select the USB Application to access these settings. After the USB Application loads, click on the 3G/4G section to access the tethering settings.

3. Connect to your Phone using USB

With a USB data cable, connect your phone to a USB port on your router. In case your Asus router model features a USB 3.0 port, it is advisable to use this one as it probably will get more power. The idea is to get enough power to prevent the phone battery from draining.

4. Activate USB Mode for Android phone. You will be directed to the USB Modem/USB tethering screen and there, you need to follow these steps:

  1. Change WAN Type to USB
  2. Enable USB Mode ON
  3. Choose Android Phone as USB device type
  4. Select Apply so that the settings are permanent

5. Activate tethering on your phone

The location of the tethering options on your device, will depend on its model and Android version. In some phones running Android 6.01, the tethering options can be accessed from the settings menu. You can go to Settings, select Wireless & Networks and then More, Tethering & Mobile Hotspot. Keep in mind that if your plan doesn’t support tethering, you will get an error message. In this case, the best option is to use the second method, with third-party apps like PdaNet and Foxfi.

6. Confirm your internet connection

After enabling tethering on your device, you will need to allow some time for the router to detect the active internet connection. On the Network Map screen of the router settings, you can check is the WAN status appears as Connected. If that is not the case, ensure that your WAN is set to use as USB as the default WAN type. In case you are using a Dual Wan setup, set one of them to USB and enable Failback to make sure that it continues trying the USB connection on a regular basis. If it doesn’t work, restart the router. This may help to apply the settings. You may also have to enable tethering on your phone again after the router reboots.

7. Last, but not least, use a VPN to prevent Video Throttling. If you want to stream content and watch videos on YouTube or other apps, using a VPN is crucial. Bear in mind that the majority of mobile carriers throttle (slow down) 4G data, particularly video, when the connection is routed to a different device, that is not mobile. When you use Netflix or YouTube on your tethered PC, with every data packet, your browser provides information that can be used to recognize which packets are going to a tethered device and which ones will go to a mobile device.

Usually, they will slow down the speeds of video streaming apps and sites via tethered devices. This means that if you tether your phone to your computer and try to stream a video in HD, you are likely to face issues. When you use a VPN, your 4G provider won’t be able to identify data packet readers or establish a difference between mobile and tethered traffic. Your data provider can’t slow down your mobile traffic and since a VPN prevents them from identifying which is which, you will even be able to watch 4k videos.

Option 2 – Share tether with router

Instead of using official tethering, you can try this method, which works with pretty much any router model. For this option, you can try apps like Easytether, PdaNet+ and Clockworkmod Tether. PdaNet is the recommended option since it is stable and offers good performance. In order to get the full benefit, the best option is to get the paid version of the app.

This method works by tethering workaround apps that don’t need the official Android tethering support. They work like a USB file-transfer app that establishes virtual internet connection on your computer app. You will need to install software on your computer, meaning that with this option, it is not possible to directly tether the phone to the router. What you will need to do in this case is to tether the phone to your computer and then share the computer’s tethered connection with the router, with the help of an Ethernet cable for the best possible speed.

Although this method limits your mobility since the computer has to remain close to the router, it is still an option that is more convenient than paying hefty bills. If you work at a desk on a regular basis or your desktop computer is already near the router, this is a solution worth considering. There are a few things that you will need for this method, let’s go through the list.

First of all, you need a tethered connection that is working. You may be already familiar with using your selected app to create a tethered online connection with your computer. You will also need a router, but almost any miderange device can be used. In addition, you need an Ethernet cable t connect the LAN port of your tethered computer to the router’s WAN internet port. A second WiFi enabled device is also needed, for testing purposes and to ensure that everything is working as it should. We suggest using a computer or a tablet.

  1. Connect the computer ethernet to router. Plug the ethernet cable into your computer’s ethernet/lan port and connect the other side to your router’s WAN port, where you will normally plug in your cable modem.
  2. Disconnect your computer’s WiFi. Then launch the tethering app that you have selected and start a USB tethering session. You need to check the you are connected to the internet and that the tethering is working as it should.
  3. Open your Network adapter settings. If you are on a Windows machine, go to Control Panel, Network & Internet, then Network Connections. If you click on the “change adapter settings”, you will be directed to the same location. The two connection that you need to find are: Ethernet/Lan connection and tethered connection.
  4. Now you need to share the tethered connection to the LAN port. There are two ways to do this. The first one is Network Bridge. You can click on any of the two connections you want to share, then hold CTRL while you are clicking the other connection to choose the two of them at the same time. The next step is to right click on either highlighted connection and select Bridge Connections from the menu that appears. A virtual link between these two network connections will be created, which is pretty much the same as sharing. Windows will create the bridge within one minute or so. After that, Windows will show a Network Bridge as a new connection in this control panel, but you will need to select Refresh. Then, the data will be shared directly from the tethered connection to the ethernet port.The second option for this method is connection sharing. For this, you need to start by right clicking on the tethered connection, then select properties from the popup menu. After that, click the Sharing tab at the top and then click “Allow other network users to connect…”. Select the name of your Ethernet adapter from the dropdown menu under Home networking connections. That is all, now your tethered connection is shared with your Ethernet port.
  5. The next step is to make sure that everything is working as it should. The best way to check the setup is to plug the other end of the Ethernet cable, the one that goes into your router’s WAN port into a different computer. If you are able to connect to the internet, you will know that the connection sharing is working without issues. It is also possible to check i from within the control panel’s connection settings. Just right click on the Tethered adapter and select Status. Check that the IPv4 connectivity says Internet. Do the same for the Ethernet adapter. Under connection status, you should also see “Internet”.In case the Ethernet connection is not displaying the correct status, you can try to disable your firewall for a while. It is possible that the antivirus/firewall protection is preventing the connection. The best solution is to validate the connection by connecting a second computer to the LAN cable.
  6. Now you need to connect the Ethernet cable into the router’s WAN/internet port, if it hasn’t been already plugged in. After that, open the router’s control panel, which is accessed form the router’s local IP address. Ensure that your WAN type is set to WAN, instead of LAN, USB or any other option. It is important to make sure that the router is aware that it has to use the WAN port for the internet connectivity rather than other port. It is possible that your router resets after that, if not, you probably want to reboot it to ensure that the settings are applied. After that, go back to the control panel and check if there is a connection status indicator or some way to check that you can get online. If you have an ASUS router, you can go to the Network Map panel and there you will see the router’s local WAN IP address and the connection status, which should say “Connected”.
  7. Now, we need to test the router’s connection. For this purpose, you will use the second device. Sign into the router’s wireless network and test your internet access in the device. If you are able to connect, it means that everything is working as it should and now you have a home network that can use your 4G unlimited data. If you can’t connect, go through all the steps, disable the firewall and try once more. If you are still experiencing issues, check the below troubleshooting tips.

Troubleshooting tips

If things are not working out and you are experiencing issues, there are a few things that you can do to try to solve them.

You can set a static IP address for your Ethernet adapter. This can help in some cases and all you have to do is to go to the network adapter settings, right-click on the Ethernet adapter, the connection shared with the router and select properties from he popup menu. The Ethernet Properties window will open, it has a box with several connection types with checkboxes next to them. You can scroll to the bottom and ensure that the IPv4 connection box has a check next to it. Choose the IPv4 connection, then click the properties button. It is possible that your settings are for Automatic IP address.

Now you can change them to static, enter a new IP address on a different subnet. The base local IP address is 192.168.1.1 and we recommend changing only the third number block. It can be 192.168.0.1 or 192.168.3.1, just ensure that it is not an IP address that is already being used by a different router/gateway on your network. You can set the subnet mask to 255.255.255.0 and leave the default gateway blank. It will also be necessary to specify the DNS servers that the connection will use. It is not possible to simply type any address, the real IP location of real DNS servers online is required. You can use GoogleDNS 8.8.8.8 and ComodoDNS 6.26.56.26. Keep in mind that you may also need to reboot your router and ensure that DHCP is enabled on your router.

Ensure that your firewall is not causing issues. Windows firewall may not block shared internet connections, but a third-party firewall such as Comodo, Mcaffee and Avast could. If you disable it temporarily, it is possible that the setup starts working.

You also need to check that your tethered connection is active. It is possible that a connection drops so recheck from time to time to see that your USB tether is active and that you are able to get online on the tethered computer.

Using a VPN to prevent data throttling

As we mentioned before, using a VPN will help you to get the best possible experience if you want to use your tethered connection to stream media content. Most providers throttle tethered data, even if they are offering unlimited 4G plans. You will have to deal with low resolution streams and constant buffering. With a VPN, you can avid throttling and enjoy seamless streams. There are three ways in which you can use a VPN with your tethered connection.

You can run the VPN on your router, if your device supports this option. All the devices connected to the router, will be secured with the VPN connection. ASUS offers routers that can run a VPN, once you configure OpenVPN on ASUSWRT. If you have a router that has been already flashed with DD-WRT, you will also be able to run a VPN on it.

The other option is to use VPN software on individual devices. It is possible to install VPN software on your computer or tablet, that is connected to the tethered router. There are VPNs that allow multiple connections, so you can use the service on different devices at the same time.

You can also run a VPN on a tethered phone with the help of third party apps like PdaNet. In this case, it is possible to use a VPN on your phone and the shared connection will go through the VPN tunnel, which is almost like running the VPN on the router directly. The downside is that this option won’t work with official tethering that is routed outside the app’s control. When it comes to choosing a VPN service, it is important to go for an option that offers stability, security, good speeds and good value for money. We recommend IPVanish, ExpressVPN, VyprVPN, NordVPN and Private Internet Access.