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Does Android KitKat Detect Unauthorized Tethering on T-Mobile USA Network?

November 26, 2013

According to a few Nexus 4 and Nexus 5 users, Android KitKat now detects unauthorized Tethering on T-Mobile USA network.

A colleague of ours noticed that after upgrading to Android KitKat on a Nexus 4, Tethering & portable hotspot no longer works. Devices connected to the Wi-Fi hotspot are redirected to T-Mobile login page.

Android Kit Kat Tethering Carrier Login

When an iPhone is connected to the Wi-Fi Hotspot from a Nexus 4 running Android KitKat, options to “Auto-join” and “Auto-login” appears.


The iPhone then tries to connect to a T-Mobile login page, but the page never loads.


We then use a Nexus 5 which came with Android KitKat pre-installed to create a wi-Fi hotspot. The result was the same, it forces connected devices to log in.

Another colleague of ours still has a Nexus 4 running Android Jelly Bean 4.3. The Nexus 4 is connected to T-Mobile USA network and without tethering plan. Devices connected the Wi-Fi hotspot created by the Android Jelly Bean-running Nexus 4 were not asked to log in.

We then inserted a working AT&T micro-SIM card into the Nexus 4 with Android KitKat. We had no issues using tethering through this phone.

At this point, it seems that Google has added codes in Android KitKat that detect unauthorized tethering. So far, it only affects Nexus phones (4 and 5) on T-Mobile USA network. We purchased the Nexus 4 and Nexus 5 from Google Play SIM-free and unlocked.

Is it possible that Google has added this “feature” to appease T-Mobile?

After all, Google has partnered up with T-Mobile (and Sprint) to sell Nexus 5.

Google Nexus 5 T-Mobile Sprint

We recommend users to wait from upgrading to Android KitKat on their Nexus 4.


3 Comments leave one →
  1. November 29, 2013 12:07 pm

    This is something I just found out. The only thing I use tethering on my phone for is to download approx. 200K of map tiles to my Nexus 7 when I’m out away from a wi-fi connection. There is no possibility of me paying T-mobile an additional $10/month for the privilege of doing that. Especially considering that in any location but a major metropolitan area, T-mobile’s service is absolute garbage. Edge? Really, T-Mobile? After how long? EDGE? I just discovered this tethering issue, and I haven’t had time to decide whether this is the final straw.

  2. tallen permalink
    December 6, 2013 11:05 am

    First of all this is worded all wrong. “Unauthorized tethering”?!! The only way for T-Mobile to segment this out and charge for it is if Google added a “feature” for them. Namely that KitKat engages in a little bit of spying in that it tells the carrier that you’ve turned on tethering. I bought my Nexus 4 from Google. I bought it, I own it, and Google, visa-vie this thing that I own is allowing my carrier to spy on me. …and don’t give me this crap about my agreement, my choices here are about as meaningful as when I go to vote, I have few choices all bad.

    • December 6, 2013 2:45 pm

      In the eye of T-Mobile, it is an “unauthorized tethering”.
      I added the word “unauthorized” to the post after it was written because it shows what the carrier see it as.

      To us, we have paid for the data service and we feel that we should be able to do what ever we want to do with it.

      At this point we no longer recommend Nexus phones thanks to this issue.

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