What to do?
If you have cellular data access and a signal then USB tethering might solve your conundrum. Tethering refers to the act of sharing your mobile data connection with another device. There are various ways to do this, but in my opinion, USB tethering is the best because it:
- Provides the fastest throughputs and
- Has the serendipitous side effect of charging your smart phone
Know your data plan
Before we get started, you need to verify that your mobile carrier won’t charge you extra for tethering.
Last year around this time, Verizon paid $1.25 million to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for breaching FCC rules on internet openness. Verizon asked Google to remove tethering Apps from the Android Marketplace because it gave Verizon customers the ability to circumvent Verizon’s $20 per month tethering service. You can read the official release from the FCC about this, it’s only a page and a half.
But why does this matter?
Well for one, it’s good news for Verizon users. If you have a non-unlimited plan or the Share Everything plan you can tether your phone without having to pay extraneous fees.
Also, other carriers such as AT&T have volitionally made adjustments to their shared data plans to include tethering too. AT&T has also made it easy to add tethering online. Sprint also has tethering plans and even T-mobile has joined the mix.
Once you know your data plan, it’s limitations and how to monitor data usage from the Galaxy S4, you’re ready for action.
How to setup USB Tethering
Connect your Galaxy S4 to your laptop using the USB cable.
Swipe down the notification drawer from the top of the screen, tap the little gear in the upper right corner and pick More Networks in the Connections tab.
More networks is directly beneath the orange Data usage option.
Now tap Mobile Broadband Connect
One thing to be aware of is that you can’t use USB tethering on your mobile phone when Wi-Fi is enabled. If you try to do that you’ll see this error at the bottom of the screen:
Tethering Disabled. WIFI is connected
If you encounter this problem, go back two screens by tapping the Tethering gear in the upper left corner twice, and swipe Wi-Fi to Off.
When USB tethering is enabled, you’ll see a an ephemeral notification displaying: Tethering active along the top of the screen.
Now we’re almost done. Let’s look at your PC for a second.
In a few seconds a Set Network Location box should pop up on your PC.
Set the location and click Next through the wizard until the location box is satisfied.
Then in the Network and Sharing Center you’ll see your Galaxy S4 network connection in the adapter list. Mine is using Local Area Connection 2 and is named Network 4.
Now you’re ready to go.
When you’re done with the connection you should disable USB tethering from your phone.
Technically, you could just yank the phone free from the USB cable but don’t do it. If you unceremoniously pull the plug, the computer and phone may behave unpredictably; in my case, I ended up freezing the Control Panel so learn from my mistakes!