Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Enabling Wifi Tethering on a Freedompop Galaxy S3 phone

Quick summary for anyone in a similar situation and wants to get wifi tethering to work on a FreedomPop Samsung Galaxy SIII  (S3) Phone:

This app from the Google Play Store worked for me.  I emailed the developer with my question, and he got back to me promptly, stating that his app should work on the S3 and he would refund my purchase or provide support if it did not.  You can't get any better than that!

Wifi Tether Router
The app costs $2.50

Here's the problem I encountered and some of the other solutions that I tried:
I have a Freedompop Galaxy S3 phone.  I bought it because the Freedompop representative in a woot.com product forum stated that the Galaxy S3 phone would allow wifi tethering.  The Freedompop FAQ pages also stated that the Galaxy S3 phone would allow wifi tethering.   Freedompop uses the Sprint network.

(Bad, FreedomPop, bad.  Here's the response that I received from their rep, which was not what they promised when I bought the phone! :

FreedomPop inbox@my.nanorep.com

Dear Norbert Wu,

The reason why you cannot enable wifi tethering on your device is because it requires an active subscription to the Premier plan. Tethering on the Galaxy S3 is only accessible with the Premier plan. I currently have on file that you are subscribed to our Pro 500MB plan. You can always call our support line to upgrade your plan and receive more information.
Thank you for your support!
Your Personal FreedomPop Support Agent,

I've attempted numerous times to enable wifi tethering on the phone using other software including the included Freedompop Wifi Tether app.

I believe that Freedompop needed to contact Sprint and ask them to allow this phone to allow wifi tethering.   Good luck with that.  FreedomPop's customer service is not exactly helpful.

I researched this issue for several hours and learned that this phone has Android 4.4.2 KitKat, which has some kind of hidden "KNOX" software that does not allow any normally-used wifi tethering apps to work.

I have used Root Check, and it seems that the phone is rooted.  I have tried to remove the KNOX software using Terminal Emulator but I don't believe that did anything.  I've tried wifi-tether-Trevemod also which did not work and told me that there were errors and I should look at the log file -- then told me that the log file did not exist.  It seems that the app wifi-tether-Trevemod only works with phones up to Android 4.3. 

I also tried Foxfi and PDANet.  The phone did allow USB tethering using PDANet.
With all the above wifi tethering apps (FreedomPop, Foxfi, TreveMod), here's what happened:

Under Settings-Connection, when I attempt to enable "FreedomPop hotspot"; I get the following error messages:
“hotspot error --
you are not subscribed to the hotspot service, do you want to see subscription options?
Cancel or OK.

Selecting OK gets:
"Welcome to self service" (grayed out).  Then:
Self Service: Information: sorry experienced a system problem during your task, please dial *2 from your Sprint phone or call custom care at 888-211-4727 from another phone to complete your task”

I tried calling Sprint customer service, and the agent told me that they could not help -- that FreedomPop had to set the phone up properly (provision it).

Before using the Wifi Tether Router app that works, you need to be sure that your phone is rooted.  My phone came rooted already.  Use the free app "Root Checker" to see if your phone is rooted.   I would not advise trying to "root" your phone if it is not already rooted.  Rooting your phone will void any warranty.

(Update: on a new phone, I installed Root Checker, which told me that my phone was not rooted.  I then used SuperSU to root my phone.  It hung up on the message "disabling Knox" which is something you DO want it to do.  After checking forums, I found that this is a common problem.  Just restart your phone and you should now have rooted your phone.  The Wifi Tether Router App should now work.)


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the info. I am in a similar situation. I wanted to be able to tether to my ipad. Non of the free options works including foxfi or Wifi Tether for Root Users. I did a quick test on my GS3 and it seems to work well. Thanks.

RobynP said...

Downloading this app IMMEDIATELY!! Thanks!! Do I still need too subscribe to FP's Premier service for this to work?

Norbert Wu said...

Dear RobynP:
No, the whole reason to download this app is so you DON'T have to subscribe to FP's Premier Service. Download this app for a one-time $2.99 fee (or whatever the cost is) and get wifi tethering. Or choose FP's Premier Service, and pay $3 or $5 per month (I am not sure of the price) and get the same thing. FreedomPop has to make their money somehow and in this case they do it by trying to force you to pay for wifi tethering.

Steve Heaney said...

sorry I'm new to my freedompop galaxy s3 and I'm a bit confused. After a week of finally having to factory reboot my phone it seems I finally got freedompop working with a relatively clear voice signal where for $20 a month who can complain.

What I'm not sure is what you're saying is what app did you download to make tethering work vs paying freedompop they're $3 a month. I've also heard they're having problems with their $3 a month service .have you heard anything on that?

I have to say I paid a hundred bucks to them for a galaxy s3 through Groupon and for $20 a month as long as it works even moderately well how can you beat it when the closest thing to it is straight talk for $45 a month.

I will stick with them so far for that price you're willing to give up quality for extremely poor Customer Service.considering their reseller for Sprint and their overhead is low we can't ask for much more.

StillHacking said...

Still works on FreedomPop Galaxy s3 Android Version 4.4.2. Only glitch for mr is to re-enable wifi the phone must be rebooted. If you don't reboot you cannot connect to an external wifi hot spot. Great app even so.

Anonymous said...

Worked for me.

January, 2016.
WiFi Tether Router build 174
Galaxy S3 phone running Android 5.0.1
FreedomPop / Sprint network

Be patient when enabling the Wifi Router! For me it takes almost sixty seconds to enable the wifi router, and about the same for disabling it. And the taps aren't immediately acknowledged by the phone. But it works.

Connected to the internet using a Wifi connection from my unrooted iPad to my phone (came rooted from FreedomPop).

I haven't dealt with optimizations such as turning wifi on/off automatically, or using wifi scanning while wifi is off for location services.

The main point is that it works. PDANet+ on this phone produced a demand that I subscribe to a tether service.