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How to Hide Data Usage and Get Truly “Unlimited” Tethering with T-Mobile

T-Mobile’s new standard all-unlimited talk, text, and data plan is called T-Mobile One. Supposedly, it’s simplified now without tiers of data caps, just one simple plan without limits. But is that really the case or is this a false embellishment?

t-mobile-data-tethering-sucks

The first thing I noticed after lucubrating through the terms and conditions was the tethering. If you’re a farmer like me and you don’t live in an area with high-speed internet access, the tethering becomes a make-it-or-break-it deal. With the new T-Mobile One, there is unlimited tethering at only 2G limacine speeds (512kbps), which stultifies any meaningful use. Getting decent speeds requires an additional $15 add-on for 4G tethering and has a data cap set at 5GB per month.

Your data still isn’t truly unlimited even if you’re just planning on using your phone or tablet—which, by the way, T-Mobile and other carriers still fail to understand that there are Windows and OS X powered tablets, not just Android and iOS. But anyhow, if you are using what T-Mobile considers a “phone or tablet” the data cap is effectively still set at 28GB because after exceeding 26GB, speeds slow way down from throttling. T-Mobile doesn’t specify how slow it’s going to be after 26GB, but from my testing with previous T-Mobile data caps it’s looking like less than 512kbps.  With that said, the tricks I have below aren’t going to offer you truly “unlimited” tethering data either because that 28GB soft-cap will result in T-Mobile slowing you down if you go over in one billing cycle. Not everyone will experience the post-28GB throttling, but do keep in mind that on previous versions of T-Mobile’s unlimited data plan (if you’re lucky to be grandfathered in) this throttling wasn’t present.

Update: We were contacted by a T-Mobile representative who clarified that only 3% of their customer base may see throttling above 28GB on a single line.

The next thing is HD video. The new T-Mobile One plan offers “unlimited video” data, but it’s only at 480p. True HD (720p or greater) requires an extra $25 add-on PER LINE. This feature was previously free and only required activation with the My T-Mobile account settings.

Now if you find T-Mobile’s fine print to be anathema, here are three different ways to work around the tethering limits.

Editor’s Note: Before you use these tricks, make sure you don’t abuse them. T-Mobile CEO John Legere has announced his intention to go after “Network Abusers” who are using as much as 2 TB of data and are circumventing T-Mobile’s throttling and data caps. Abusers get kicked off the unlimited data plan. If you only use a few extra GB, you shouldn’t raise any red flags. Just don’t go nuts. Do the data equivalent of driving 5 MPH over the speed limit. Or, if you fear the wrath of John, maybe skip this tip.

Method 1 – Dun = 0 [Android Only]

Requirements: Windows PC, USB cable

  1. Download the ADB and Fastboot installer from XDA-developers. Select Yes when prompted by installation options (install ADB and fastboot, install system-wide, and install drivers).
  2. Enable USB Debugging on your phone/tablet.
  3. Connect your phone to your computer via USB cable.
  4. Open up the command prompt.
    • Click Start, in the search Type in cmd.  Next, Click on the program cmd (or Command Prompt)
  5. Type “adb shell” and press enter.
    • Don’t type the quotation marks “”, just the text inside them!
  6. Type “settings put global tether_dun_required 0” and press enter.

Note: If you see “error: device not found” it is usually because A) you need to update your phone USB drivers on your PC or B)  your USB cable isn’t capable of transmitting data because it is only designed to charge the phone or C) USB Debugging isn’t enabled.

ADB DEVICE NOT FOUND

Method 2  – PdaNet

Requirements: Windows PC or Mac, USB Cable

  1. Install PdaNet+ from the Google Play store.
  2. Install PdaNet desktop application on your Windows PC or Mac. Start the application.
  3. Open PdaNet+ on your phone and check the Activate USB Mode box and also Hide Tether Usage.
  4. Connect your phone to your computer via USB cable.

pda-net-playstorepdanet

Note: If you find PdaNet isn’t working, or T-Mobile is severely throttling your connection, installing a custom Android ROM like Cyanogenmod can help. This is in part because, on many phones, T-Mobile has pre-installed network monitoring software designed to detect extracurricular data use.

Method 3 – VPN

Requirements: Monthly fee

While it may slow down your connection a bit, one sure way to get around any sniffing T-Mobile might be doing to detect your tether usage is to tunnel your traffic through a  VPN (virtual private network). This can be done on the individual PC you want to tether, or you can tether phone’s entire data stream. There are too many options here to list them all, but when it comes to simplicity PIA (Private Internet Access VPN) is the best and easiest to set up and will run you about $39.95 a year ($3.33 a month). PIA has a Mac, Windows, iOS and Android client which just works. 

So that covers it. For me the Dun=0 trick and PdaNet worked well enough, I didn’t have to resort to a VPN, but your mileage may vary depending on what phone you have and the total network traffic in your area. Please post any questions or issues you have below, and I’ll do my best to help out!

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28 Responses to How to Hide Data Usage and Get Truly “Unlimited” Tethering with T-Mobile

  1. Jay November 15, 2016 at 3:22 pm #

    Or just method 4, just edit the ttl of the system you will be using it on, thats is all T-Mobile checks to determine of the data came from the phone or a device connected to it, Android and ios have a default ttl of 64 so if you change the ttl of your Windows/Mac/linux machine to 65 when it gets routed through the hotspot it will have a ttl of 64 inline with the phones data, the reason they do this is some apps send data with either no user agent string in the header or a “spoofed” firefox,ie,or other “desktop” user agent, also it is a common practice to use a desktop user agent to get a desktop only webpage and many people use such features.

    • Austin Krause November 15, 2016 at 7:56 pm #

      I had attempted using TTL but still had issues with the WiFi hotspot being throttled. Interestingly enough though, it appeared T-mobile was sniffing the header because the throttling went away when I used a user-agent switcher to spoof the desktop Chrome browser as a mobile android version of itself.

      • jay November 15, 2016 at 11:04 pm #

        I know they don’t solely use user agent strings anymore(they use to,back in those days i used a pfsense box to remove any “desktop” user agent s that went through my firewall on the fly)since some of the apps i use use desktop agents to acess data from sites that dont support mobile and things like chromes desktop site feature, but i know they do seem to pass most andriod/ios user agent packets along just fine, often even if they dont pass one of thier other data checks. Idk what their current rules are on thier network all i can tell you is for the last 10 months my network has been editing ttl only and getting by fine, unfortunately this is a game of cat and mouse i have to play since i live in a dialup only area and i cant afford nor deal with the latency associated with satellite internet. There is a possibility that T-Mobile devices have a flag sent before a teathering session and somehow mark data from the wlan interface but i would not know since i use either unlocked devices or one that can be flashed to aosp

        • Austin Krause November 16, 2016 at 6:37 am #

          Right on.

          I was also using Cyanogenmod when testing with the built-in hotspot utility.

        • Michael November 21, 2016 at 1:51 pm #

          hey, can go go into more detail on pfsense box. did you use squid to mask the user agent? thanks!

      • jay November 15, 2016 at 11:10 pm #

        Also if you edit ttl you need to make sure to do it right, its easy to use hex on accident when editing it on Windows. Since hex is base 16 65 would be 101 not 65, the remedy would be to use either a decimal value(65) or enter the correct hex value that would equal 65(or 41 in hex)

  2. Jay November 15, 2016 at 3:27 pm #

    Can’t edit my comment-editing tll also has the advantage of being device agnostic, not requiring root and also being possible to do with dedicated hardware so a entire network can be run behind it even on devices that can not have their ttl edited(Android tablets, chromcasts,tvs ect) this can be done with a a router running ddwrt, tomato, a pc running pfsense to act as a firewall or just a good old linux machine set up to work as a router

  3. Jay November 15, 2016 at 3:37 pm #

    Also im on metropcs(a T-Mobile mvno) and have used this trick on both T-Mobile and Metro, my current useage this month with 13 days to go is 658GB with my network eed verying between 17Mb/s and 45Mb/s depending on time of day, i had no issues useing this a year back on T-Mobile and have never had speed drop to below 4g speeds outside of network issues, because MetroPCS is a T-Mobile mvno and already has lower priority over T-Mobile data and the same 26GBs for them depriortizeing your data when under load i find it unlikely that amyone will be throttled to the speeds stated unless the system is heavily underload, something i have never encountered in my 4 years on both T-Mobile and MetroPCS. End pf the story unless is a huge city also with under served amounts of towers it is unlikely you will go under 8Mb/s the lowest i ever have to deal with

  4. Austin Krause November 15, 2016 at 5:01 pm #

    I’m going to note here I’ve been using T-Mobile’s Unlimited data plan ($150 monthly for 4 lines, unlimited everything) for 1 year. The most data I’ve used on a single line in a month was around 160GB. T-mobile did at one point begin throttling my usage with the Dun=0 trick. However after switching to PDAnet the throttling stopped.

    I ended up using an energy efficient PC left on 24/7 to share the connection with a router creating WiFi at the house. I don’t recommend that setup, but if your only other option is dial-up like it was for me then desperate times call for desperate measures.

    • Jay November 15, 2016 at 6:14 pm #

      Im not saying you didn’t have dial up speeds in your case, all im saying is that it is perfectly possible to have speeds above that when teathering and past 26GB, It seems to be a fairly soft throttle yeah my data seems to have a much larger variance in speeds after 26GB but they certainly don’t throttle it to heck, and as me and some other users on XDA, and Andriod forums determined with packet sniffers and messing around TTL in the main and for the most part only way that traffic is being glaged as hotspot data currently, and the best Android tethering apps do just that edit ttl along with a few other edits to the header to get ps3 / ps4 data hidden. For most things editting the ttl covers it completely

      Proof
      usage
      https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B559FIpi6uslN1BMMmRfcms0N0k/view

      speedtest
      https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B559FIpi6uslNTFjb2ZQSW83bFE/view

  5. Tony November 20, 2016 at 7:45 am #

    I understand you need a USB cable to enable these hacks but is the USB cable necessary for the actual tethering? My understanding is, wifi tether is faster than USB. Thank you

    • JCwarez November 27, 2016 at 7:56 pm #

      Tony, No USB cable s needed at all. for wndows, follow these steps:
      1. Open Registry Editor (regedit.exe).
      2. From the HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE subtree, go to the following key:
      \SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\Tcpip\Parameters.
      3. In the right pane, add the following value:
      Name: DefaultTTL
      Type: REG_DWORD

      Then double click it and add value 65 as hexadecimal.

      4. After that, please restart the computer and check the result.

      • Jay November 28, 2016 at 4:28 am #

        65 as decimal, remember that hexadecimal is base 16 so “65” is really 101 ,use 41 if you use hexadecimal

        • Jay November 28, 2016 at 4:36 am #

          Not to say it doesn’t currently work, just that the traffic looks clearly different then what the phone makes, all it would take is a simple firewall update and your tethering wouldn’t work, they seem to currently be redirecting ttls 65,128,256 and somemore in-between.

          The phone has a ttl of 64(in base 10) so just add 1 per hop and your good usually you are just one away(wifi hotspot)

  6. Tony November 28, 2016 at 12:00 pm #

    JCwarez, what method am I using for this? Also, nothing has to be done with the phone first?

    • Jay November 28, 2016 at 12:33 pm #

      No nothing on the phone needs to be done, so long as you can turn on the wifi hotspot. Just open up a administrator command prompt and paste in “netsh int ipv4 set glob defaultcurhoplimit=65″(without the quotation marks) and restart the computer, this is functionally equivalent to his instructions since all it does is add a registry enrty into the same place you would if done manually.

  7. Michelle November 30, 2016 at 6:04 pm #

    Thanks Jay. I did all those 3 steps in the article and none work for me in the last 2 months. Jay’s step works perfectly on the desktop side. I don’t understand all this but this may help someone in trouble like me. Mine is Nexus 5x 6.01. Tmobile unlimited.

    • Jay November 30, 2016 at 10:24 pm #

      Honestly though since you have a nexus device, i would recommend rooting and useing teather router(playstore) sonce that would allow teather bypassing on any device, but you have to be comfortable with doing so, its a better long-term solution though

  8. Michelle November 30, 2016 at 10:45 pm #

    My nexus 5x 6.01 was rooted and have tether router apk. And all those 3 methods. None worked. XDA people ran out of idea.Just about to give up. Did one more search and found this post. Tried it and it works for now. I dont know what this method does to the desktop? Your post wad simple for me to follow so i tried. And it works!!!. I have no problem with other mobile devices connecting to my Nexus 5x, just supper slow on my desktop. Before the change, desktop speedtest.net couldn’t even load 0.01Mbps. Now I get 19Mbps. I have window7

    • Jay December 1, 2016 at 12:13 am #

      The TTLstands for “time to live” it is a counter on the data you send for its maximum hop count, or the number of devices it can travel through, for ever device it goes down by one, windows has a default TTL of 128, while Android has one of 64, if you change the TTL for windows to 65 when it gets to the phone the TTL will go down by one makeing it equal 64 the same as the phone. There are more adwanced way to do this so you can run a whole network off this by using a router with either DD-wrt, Tomatos or open-wrt or a dedicated pc running either pfsense, linux, or freebsd to act as a router and mangle the TTl on the fly, the benefits of this is it gets ALL of the data(windows seem to miss a small amount arohnd 5%) and its possible to edit the User agent in ways that dont mess up websites with squid and just appending the device.

  9. Michelle December 2, 2016 at 10:45 am #

    FYI, today my tether counter is restarted. My desktop speed is 73.58Mbps. Big diff. Is there any mod to get this speed on desktop after throttled?
    Nexus 5x, tmobile unlimited w 1G tethering. I’m willing to use a custom ROM, kernel, apk and any combination Etc. As a Ginnie pig?

    • Jay December 2, 2016 at 11:24 am #

      As far as i know the ttl is enough, if that doesn’t work you can always install a local proxy sever on the phone, and set that as the proxy server for the pc.

    • Jay December 2, 2016 at 11:26 am #

      How much data did you use last month? And did you test the speed on the phone and compare it to the computer?

  10. Michelle December 2, 2016 at 11:28 am #

    Would you mind show me how? Trying to learn more about this stuff. Thanks

  11. Michelle December 2, 2016 at 11:40 am #

    I used 30Gigs last month. I’m making a WP website so I do use it more than usual but not in a 100gigs or so. WP admin loads slow when I try to make changes. The phone speed is always above 50+Mbps. I already used up my 1 gig for this month and it’s only 5 hrs

    • Jay December 2, 2016 at 6:46 pm #

      1gb of tether? Or of highspeed data? If its highspeed your out of luck. Also if you makeing a WordPress site it would make more sense to do the dev work through local host and one push when you have tested it thoroughly and are happy with it. As far as showing you how, the proxy doesn’t work that well for anything other than web traffic and apps that run on port 80. I never get much more then 30Mb/s myself because im on metropcs. If you want to try something, see if have a wifi router that can be flashed to dd wrt, tomatos, or open wrt, around you house and use it to mangle the ttl on the fly, but that starts to go down a rabbit hole, you would need a bit to learn how to manually configure wifi repeaters/clients in ddwrt(and or the others) how to mess with telnet, finding Interface names, ect… Its not to hard just took me 2-3 days to start getting the hand of it without fumbling for 2 hours. And if you wanted to be real sure they cant tell you teathing then find a spare laptop buyusb Ethernet adapter and modify the UA strings so they appear to come from the phone, you just need to append them at the back with some basic cellphone identifers and then set ip the box as a proxy server seting tthe ttl as data passes through.

  12. Michelle December 2, 2016 at 6:53 pm #

    That is 1G of tethering and unlimited Mobil data. I have vpn on my desktop but it makes its slower. I have lots of old laptops. I have a USB dongle on my desktop. Will need to ask Google more “how to” questions? Any links you would suggest for “modify the UA strings so they appear to come from the phone, you just need to append them at the back with some basic cellphone identifers and then set ip the box as a proxy server seting tthe ttl as data passes through”

  13. Michelle December 2, 2016 at 6:54 pm #

    I also have many old routers!

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