Personal Hotspot Dropping Connections? Try This DHCP Client Fix

Oct 13, 2013 - 10 Comments

Fix Personal Hotspot dropping connections Personal Hotspot lets you share a devices cellular data connection with other devices or computers by turning a device into a wi-fi router, and it’s easily one of the better features of the iPhone and cellular iPad models (and Android phones for that matter). The iOS Personal Hotspot usually functions without a hitch, but sometimes the connection can appear flakey and connected devices will drop off the network completely, or have intermittent connection drops with significant packet loss.

This is likely a software problem that will be addressed in future iOS updates, but in the meantime there’s a fairly simple fix that seems to resolve the issue completely for clients who are experiencing dropped connections. The trick? Set the network configurations yourself, which prevents Personal Hotspot from assigning DHCP information to clients, and seems to resolve the intermittent connection problems completely.

From the Device Running Personal Hotspot

You’ll obviously need Personal Hotspot enabled on the device acting as a wi-fi router. Turn on the feature through Settings as usual, and then proceed with the following steps from the client devices (client, meaning the devices that are connecting to the wi-fi Personal Hotspot). Remember that some carriers include Personal Hotspot for free with their plans, while others do not and charge extra for the feature.

From the Personal Hotspot Client Devices

This works for all client devices that are experiencing connectivity issues with Personal Hotspot, and appears to be completely carrier agnostic, meaning whether you’re using AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, Bell, or whoever else, it shouldn’t matter. We’ll break down the steps for the most common wifi hotspot clients for iOS on the iPad, iPhone and iPod touch, as well as Mac and Windows.

For iOS devices:

  • Open “Settings” and tap “Wi-Fi”, join the Personal Hotspot wi-fi network as usual
  • Now tap the “(i)” button to get more information on the network, make note of the network details under “IP Address”, including the IP, subnet mask, router, and DNS
  • Now tap the “Static” tab and enter in an IP address higher in the range than what was set in the prior step, enter the router and subnet mask so it is the same, and set DNS (you may want to use for Google’s DNS servers, it’s easy to remember and very fast)

You’ve just set a manual IP with DHCP, circumventing the DHCP servers automatic assignments which seem to be the source of the connection troubles. Exit out of Settings and enjoy Personal Hotspot as usual.

On a side note, you may be able to temporarily remedy the solution by renewing the DHCP lease or resetting network settings on the iOS device, but in our experience it will eventually suffer from the same dropped connection and packet loss. Thus you’ll want to go with the static IP approach, it works.

From Mac clients running OS X:

  • Join the Personal Hotspot network as usual
  • Open System Preferences from the  Apple menu and go to “Network”, select the Wi-Fi connection from the left then choose “Advanced”
  • Choose the “TCP/IP” tab, and pull down “Configure IPv4” submenu to select “Using DHCP with manual address”
  • Fill in the appropriate details for IP, subnet mask, router, and DNS

If you have configured a static IP before this will be familiar to you. Be sure to set an IP higher in the range to avoid IP conflicts. As mentioned above with iOS, you may want to use for DNS servers, they are from Google and are typically very fast.

For Windows clients:

  • Go to the Start menu > Control Panel > Network and Sharing > choose “View network properties”
  • Right-click the Personal hotspot wi-fi network and choose “Properties” then go to the “Networking” tab, then select “Internet Protocol version 4 TCp/IP ipV4” and choose “Properties”
  • Select “Use the following IP address” and fill in the IP address, subnet mask, default gateway settings, then choose “OK

Exit out of all of that and launch web browser to confirm Personal Hotspot is working as expected, and enjoy.

That covers just about every device possible that would be connecting to Personal Hotspot, so you should be on your way sharing the internet connection as usual without any dropping or packet loss problems. Curiously, similar issues in OS X have appeared fairly often throughout the years from DHCP automatic assignments, and the solution is almost always to just set manual DHCP information. These type of issues are usually resolved with minor software updates, so the issue may be resolved in the future without having to configure any settings as outlined above.


Related articles:

Posted by: Paul Horowitz in iPad, iPhone, Mac OS, Tips & Tricks, Troubleshooting


» Comments RSS Feed

  1. Zohan says:

    I changed my settings to static — I still lose connection.

    Typically I lose it after my client device’s screen turns off for a while due to inactivity. I would wake up my device to find that I’ve lost the tether. Such a pain to have to reconnect all the time.

  2. Zach says:

    Ok, I got it to work but I think I need a little help. I put all the appropriate details into “static” to what showed up on my iPad originally and it worked like a charm! The part I’m having trouble with is the “set an IP higher in the range” and “use for DNS servers”.

    My data was this:
    IP Address:
    Subnet Mask: 255:255:255:240
    DNS:, fe80::89a:78c8:33b7:3903

    What would be the appropriate new number be to avoid IP conflict and proper DNS format? A sample “settings before” and “settings after” image would probably be great for those of us who understand enough to implement this but need a little visual.

    Thanks so much!

    • Jimbo says:


      IP Address:

      Before:, fe80::89a:78c8:33b7:3903

  3. elvis says:

    you won’t be able to find the gateway on mobile data as it uses an APN
    unless you’re using wifi.
    if you’re on wifi it’s the address of the internal gateway, but you could just connect to the wifi instead of the hotspot…

  4. Sean Oliver says:

    Anyone offering tech advice online undoubtedly possesses immensely superior intelligence and expertise compared to the drooling simpletons like me who seek their help with our pathetic problems. This is precisely why they should assume their readers are hopeless cretins, and make their instructions nice and simple.

  5. Matthew says:

    I agree with Sean, I am reasonably competent at networks, my usual gateway is, is this the gateway for the phone? At least give us a clue.

  6. Sean Oliver says:

    I’ve read the whole thing 3 times, but I STILL don’t know exactly what I should do.

    Under Windows instructions, it says to:

    Select “Use the following IP address” and fill in the IP address, subnet mask, default gateway settings, then choose “OK”.

    WHAT ‘IP address’?
    WHAT subnet mask?
    WHAT ‘default gateway..?

    Do I just make up numbers?

    Your instructions are VAGUE, contradictory, baffling and infuriating.

    Poor instruction writing has become endemic among English speakers.

    • David O'Brien says:

      Sean, this is very well written but it is aimed at users who have some working knowledge of technical matters and networking. Now Sean, this is clearly above your technical level, that’s no big deal, but if you don’t know what an IP address is you have zero business trying to change those settings. I’m not a doctor so I don’t try to perform medical procedures for example. You should call your cell phone provider and have a paid support person walk you through it with baby steps, they are good at handling novice technical users with little no-how. Ranting on the internet because you have no idea what you’re doing is not going to fix your problem or your lack of technical comprehension.

      • JC says:

        Bull. And you’re being condescending, David.

        There’s no way I can find to determine what the IPv4 range of my iphone’s personal hot spot would be to assign a static IP, and my macbook pro was failing to receive an IP address via wifi hotspot or bluetooth hotspot. I’ve spent a good dozen or so hours on and off over the last couple weeks as the weather has been nicer and I’ve wanted to work from the park, with no luck. (IPv6 worked, but most sites – including all the ones google said had suggestions on fixing the problem – and more importantly my work VPN don’t support it, or at least wouldn’t load even though things like google and cnn would)

        This time, though, I had an extra thing to try – finally bought a USBC > Lightning cable so I can plug the phone into the laptop and try USB tethering.

        Once I plugged in a USB cable and disabled wifi, it connected to the hotspot via USB and finally issued an address in the 172.20.10.x range with subnet mask… and as a bonus, when I switched back to wifi, it suddenly was able to access the iphone’s DHCP server and got another IP in the same range with the same subnet.

        So anyone coming across this in the future, try USB tethering if wifi and bluetooth don’t work, and if that doesn’t help, try giving a static ip of through or so with a subnet mask of and a gateway of, and see if that does the trick.

        • John says:

          Bull? The guy is telling you right. He is not being condescending. Networking is a specialty niche in the data com world. If it is so simple, (and it is not) just go learn exactly what a subnet mask is and what a useable address range is and what a default route is. Or yea make some numbers up! You got 4 to the 256th power of a chance of getting it right!

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