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Last Updated: December 23rd, 2010

The number 1 Android app for rooted phones out there is undoubtedly Android WiFi Tether, which is a free alternative to all those carrier-bundled WiFi hotspot apps. In fact, it is the primary reason I root every Android phone I own - 2 hours of commute on the train suddenly become extremely productive because of always-on laptop connectivity. I've excitedly written about the app before, especially after it added support for Infrastructure mode and WPA2 on the EVO 4G.

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Problems

However, after a few months of using the WiFi Tether app, I started experiencing occasional issues maintaining connectivity. The symptoms were:

  • the WiFi AP (access point) would suddenly disappear from the list completely
  • the connection would drop unexpectedly
  • the AP would show up in the list but connectivity with it could not be established

Doesn't sound like fun, does it? Well, it's not, and as of late, it started getting more and more frustrating, with random disconnects plaguing me 5-6-7 times an hour. Only a tether restart would be able to solve it, but usually only temporarily, and sometimes unsuccessfully. That's the bad news.

The good news is that I was able to resolve the issues and am now back to enjoying the hell out of my EVO's tethering capabilities.

Solutions

Problem 1 and Solution

Shortly after I installed Tasker, an absolutely terrific Android app, I started noticing occasional WiFi AP resets. The symptoms were a disappearing access point (AP) and a reset on the amount of transferred data that WiFi Tether showed in its window.

I spent quite a bit of time analyzing logs, trying various settings, and reinstalling but nothing helped. Until it dawned on me - I recently added a Tasker rule that would occasionally check if I am nearby a specific wireless network. If the condition succeeded, that rule would turn on WiFi permanently.

See anything wrong with this scenario? Apparently, the second the WiFi switch is toggled, it kicks tethering offline in a brutal but sneaky manner - the tethering app keeps running, albeit being just a dud at that point. The mere act of periodically waking up and seeing whether a WiFi network was available was knocking my tethering out cold.

Needless to say, that rule is now out of my Tasker, and I'm extra cautious that nothing else touches WiFi on any kind of schedule when I may be using tethering (I switched to a GPS fix polled once an hour instead).

Problem 2 and Solution

Problem 2 started happening relatively recently and would manifest itself very-very randomly - my access point would suddenly disappear until the app is restarted, and even then, it could take a few tries to connect back. My train rides stopped being as productive as before, and I generally turned sad and frustrated from being happy and proud.

Weeks went by, and my connectivity situation hasn't improved. The problem persisted even through a complete OS reinstall and upgrade from Éclair to Froyo... until one day, out of desperation, I started browsing android-wifi-tether tickets and quickly found issue #509: Tethering drops internet connectivity randomly, which described a similar problem. The solution cited was changing the frequency from the default Channel 06 to Channel 01 in the app's settings.

Since I've tried doing that before, except to Channel 12, I didn't have much hope that this would work, but short of another solution, I decided to give it a go. And what do you know... it worked!

It's been 2 weeks now, my connection has been rock solid, and I've regained my sanity. I'm not sure what kind of interference causes the problem exactly, but Channel 01 seems clear and wide open!

Here is the setting you need to change:

snap20100927_201155 snap20100927_201202

Update 12/23/2010: Looks like android-wifi-tether now defaults to channel 1.

Has this helped anyone else? I don't know, but I sure hope so. Drop a line below if you've been having similar tethering issues.

Artem Russakovskii
Artem is a die-hard Android fan, passionate tech blogger, obsessive-compulsive editor, bug hunting programmer, and the founder of Android Police.
Most of the time, you will find Artem either hacking away at code or thinking of the next 15 blog posts.

  • Jakub Glodek

    OMG, Thank you! I didn't have a chance to research this but I was plagued with Problem 2 all the time!

  • Donato Orlando

    Alot of routers use channel 6 as a default. When I fire up dd-wrt and check my neighborhood I would say about 75% of the routers it finds around me are on channel 6.

    Also channel 12 isn't used really in the United States. In Canada they use channel 12 at a limited transmit power. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_WLAN_channels

  • Aaron M.

    Great find, I just set problem #2 on my phone to channel 1 since I have been plagued by this problem also.

  • Lokesh

    Hey guys, whats the best way to root an EVO using the latest firmware? (3.29.651.5)

    I want to install the tether app and nothing else. So the most straightforward way would be great. Does the unrevoked way do it for my version?

    Thanks!

    • http://www.AndroidPolice.com Artem Russakovskii

      Yup, use unrevoked.

      • Lokesh

        Cool. I just installed the android usb drivers for windows from the unrevoked website. I downloaded unrevoked 3 and then saw something about making a recovery image? Do I need that? Does this process wipe my phone or something?

      • Lokesh

        Also I just saw on the android wifi tether software website that its "experimental" for the EVO. Guess I won't bother rooting yet.

      • Lokesh

        Nevermind, rooted anyway and the WiFi teether works surprisingly well!

  • Jay Hammy

    AWESOME! Problem #2 was my issue and your solution worked. THANKS!

  • koiutree

    Problem 2 and Solution has been working for me thanks!!!

  • Dave

    I really wish Google would pull the finger out and sort out all the tether issues, for example there is a lot of us who want BT Dun to allow us to connect our GPS to our Android phones. I have to carry around a $20 phone kinda defeats the point of a 'smart phone'

  • Rick

    Thanks, I had the same problem this past weekend, and we were getting somewhat frustrated.

    #2 sounds like my solution as well, for both my granddaughter's & grandson's iTouch. ;-D They love it that I can provide them with a WiFi connection while we're camping (no wifi at our local campground).

    Love it that an Android can *enable* a fruit to be productive!

  • jg

    Rock! #2 solved was the problem that had my temperament quickly escalating from frustration to fury.

    Thanks so much!

  • http://www.adhllc.com Brandon

    Problem #1 can be caused by Locale.
    Solution: disable Locale from the menu temporarily

  • Justin

    I changed mine to Channel 11 and it works amazing. Thanks so much.

  • Dustin M.

    I totally forgot about Advanced Task Killer! I forgot to have it "Ignore" this app.

    I changed the channel, as well, because it can't hurt! :)

    Thanks!

  • peter saddler

    Very helpful! Problem #1 we had in common. I use juice defender and now disable it when using wt. Thanks

  • OmegaRoach

    I changed to Channel 1 and all is GREAT AND WELL! Thank you SO MUCH.

  • Matt Billings

    Im embarrassed to admit I didnt even think about #1 being a problem. Ive just made both changes so I cant say its a complete fix or not but it makes total sense.

  • J P

    I bought a Samsung galaxy 4 G I haven't been able to get my compiter to recognize m
    y phone, can
    someone help please

    ?

  • Oliver

    I had the same problem, but uninstalling tasker didn't help.

    In my case, it turns out it was a program running on my computer called "HAMACHI."

    Been connected to wifi tether now for half an hour with no problems.

    IT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH THE PHONE GOING INTO SLEEP MODE as so many people seem to think