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Problems with iPhone/iOS WiFi Hotspot

When I travel, I periodically find it easier to utilize my iPhone 4S WiFi Hotspot (Personal Hotspot) to service my Macbook or iPad. This is especially true in certain airports that don’t offer free WiFi. My use is typically casual in these scenarios--checking e-mail, news, etc. I came across a point recently where trying to utilize my WiFi Hotspot under iOS gave me some trouble. I thought it might help if I shared what I found to work for me in fixing this problem. First, I shall summarize what I experienced.

The Problem
I usually leave my hotspot on, so that if I have my iPad with me, it can pull through there to update e-mails/etc. First things first, your Personal Hotspot will only activate if you have WiFi turned on, and if you bring up the configuration dialog for Personal Hotspot from the General Settings of your iPhone.
At this point, the phone appears to other devices as an ad-hoc device network. Attempting to connect to the network was successful (from the perspective of client devices connecting to the hotspot), but obtaining an IP address from DHCP failed. Multiple attempts to connect to the hotspot from multiple devices resulted in the same behavior. Additionally, nowhere during my connection attempts did I see the iOS indicator that a remote device was connected to my personal hotspot (despite the successful WiFi client connections).

The Resolution
I tried powering down the phone multiple times; I also tried rebooting my client devices as well, in the event that there was some kind of issue with them. Ultimately, I came down to a somewhat last-ditch effort to restore functionality. There is a option under Settings / General / Reset called Reset Network Settings. This setting will remove all configured WiFi access points as well, so be aware. I actuated this with high hopes that it would also clear any corrupted configuration files under the hood that might be causing my issue.

Once I issued the Reset Network Settings, the phone reboots once more and you must set up any WiFi networks you had configured as well as re-entering the Personal Hotspot password you had defined before. I went back into Settings and configured my hotspot password, and then re-enabled the Personal Hotspot feature. To my satisfaction, I was able to connect from my Macbook (and iPad, I tested both devices) again; additionally, I then saw the correct feedback on the phone as well, indicating that client connections were utilizing the Personal Hotspot.


In summary, if you have strange network related issues with your iPhone (perhaps there are some other issues that might creep up other than the one I outlined here), try issuing the Reset Network Settings option. This option was fairly innocent, especially compared with a full restore or reset. Let me know in the comments whether you encountered this issue, and, hopefully, whether this was able to help you out! I hope it does!
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