From hotspots built into smartphones, to dedicated hotspot devices, mobile hotspots are ubiquitous these days. Mobile hotspots are highly convenient, providing broadband internet access just using a cell phone signal.
In todays world, we expect high speed internet to be available everywhere. With the rise of mobile hotspot technology, we have seen the rise of gaming using mobile hotspots. Mobile hotspots pose a few specific challenges to gamers on platforms including Xbox Live. Are mobile hotspots strong enough for Xbox Live?
Not really. Gaming using a mobile hotspot is generally not recommended as performance can be inconsistent. However, when properly configured, mobile hotspots can be used to play online games via Xbox Live with mixed results. In some cases it will work okay. Just be prepared to chew through your data quickly and to experience lag. Here are the steps you should follow if you want to use your mobile hotspot for gaming.
Test Your Strength By Running a Speed Test on Your Smartphone
A mobile hotspot connection is only as good as your cellular data connection. Run a speed test on your smartphone using your favorite speed test app. There are many speed test apps available for both Android and iPhone (iOS). Xbox Live gaming does not require a really fast connection and anything 5 Mbps or higher will be strong enough for Xbox Live.
Of course if your cellular connection is unstable you will have issues. Running a speed test is the first step to see if a mobile hotspot will work for gaming on Xbox at your current location.
When it comes to cellular performance, location is paramount. Small changes in position can have drastic effects on performance. If you run a speed test and your speeds are lower than 3 Mbps, try locating your hotspot device or smartphone closer to a windows. This can sometimes make a huge difference.
If you are unable to get a stable cellular connection, it will not be strong enough to properly connect to Xbox Live. If your connection is stable and delivering at least 5 Mbps in both directions, you will likely be able to connect to Xbox Live with reasonable performance.
Turn On Your Hotspot and Connect Your Xbox
Turn on the mobile hotspot function on your iPhone or Android device. If it is not turned on it will not show up on your Xbox and you will not be able to connect. The following instructions apply to the Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S, Xbox One X, Xbox One S, and Xbox One.
Turn On Your Hotspot iPhone
- Go to Settings > Cellular > Personal Hotspot or Settings > Personal Hotspot.
- Tap the slider next to Allow Others to Join.
Turn On Your Hotspot Android
- Go to settings > Connections > Mobile Hotspot and Tethering
- Tap the slider next to mobile hotspot to turn it on.
Then connect you Xbox to your hotspot the same way you would connect it to any other Wi-Fi network.
Test Your Network Speed and Nat Type On Your Xbox
Test your network speed on your Xbox. If you are getting 4 Mbps or higher download and upload speed you are in good shape. The latency is the most important number here. If your latency is less than 85 ms you will likely have no major issues. Some games are playable with a latency as high as 120 ms, but games with fast motion including first person shooters benefit greatly from a lower latency (ping). If you speeds are lower than 4 Mbps or latency higher than 120 ms your hotspot connection is not strong enough for Xbox Live gaming.
Next you will want to test your NAT type. In most cases you will get a strict NAT type when using a mobile hotspot. This is due to the way that cellular carriers operate their networks. Most cellular carriers use a technology know as carrier grade NAT (CGNAT). Your mobile hotspot acts as a secondary NAT device. When you have two devices performing NAT connected to each other you will almost always get a strict NAT type.
For some gamers this not an issue. Other gamers really want to get an open NAT type. The best way to get an open NAT type when using a mobile hotspot is using a VPN service. This does not work in all cases but it is one of the few methods that is capable of getting you an open NAT type on a cellular network.
Start Gaming On Xbox Live Using Your Mobile Hotspot
At this point your setup should be complete. Start gaming using your hotspot. If your signal is good, and the cellular network is not overcapacity, you should have a decent gaming experience. If the cell phone tower you are connecting to is overcrowded you will likely experience ping spikes.
Unfortunately there is nothing you can do about this issue. This is the harsh reality when it comes to using a mobile hotspot for gaming. Mobile hotspots are hit or miss for gaming performance and this can change from minute to minute. Mobile hotspot connections can be strong enough for Xbox Live but performance is generally not that great.
If you are traveling and want to use your Xbox online without using public Wi-Fi, a mobile hotspot is a viable option. A mobile hotspot can offer an acceptable gaming experience but you will have to set your expectations accordingly. A mobile hotspot is not a suitable replacement for a home broadband internet connection.