How to setup your Galaxy S4 for USB tethering

Let’s say you need network access fast but you can’t find a public Wi-Fi hotspot and you can’t use your Galaxy S4 as a wireless mobile hotspot because the battery is virtually dead.

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 onlineSprint 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.

Galaxy S4 Mobile Hotspot View More Networks

Touch tethering

Galaxy S4 setup USB Tethering

Now tap Mobile Broadband Connect

Galaxy S4 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.

Galaxy S4 Tethering Disabled because Wi-Fi is Enabled

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.

Galaxy S4 USB tethering is active

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.

Galaxy S4 New Network Location appears from Tethered device

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.

Galaxy S4 New Network Adapter appears from tethered device

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!

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Posted in How To, Mobile, Samsung Galaxy S4
  • Dan Contreras

    Great article. Note to XP Service Pack 3 users: you have to download a driver from Samsung to get this to work (even if you have already installed Kies). Otherwise you will hang on a missing driver when XP tries to run USB tethering.

    My phone (TMoblie) prompted me for the Samsung download site where I had to choose my provider and phone model number from a dropdown. Kind of a pain, but clicked on the right phone then “See all downloads” and the USB driver link was the only choice.

    When installing the driver, it will say something like “You already have this driver, install anyway?” Answer yes, install and USB tethering works just as above.

    Good luck!

  • Benjamin

    Maybe off topic but this article comes the closest to helping me solve my problem. I USED to use my phone as a WIFI pass-through via this same function. After the 4.3 update, this connectivity feature is mysteriously missing (e.g. using usb tether while WIFI was enabled- the “Tethering Disabled” part of it). My desktop PC has no wifi card or usb adapter to solve this problem, and frankly, I don’t see the reasoning in this change other than for Verizon to try and get me to spend more data. Does anyone have a suggestion? I really don’t want to spend more money to have this same functionality (or less) with a separate device. :( I’m Using a Galaxy S3 btw.

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