Can I Stream Netflix With a Hotspot And Unlimited Data Plan?


Q.  I know you have been skeptical of people using a Hotspot to stream Netflix on a Smart TV instead of using an Internet service from a cable or telephone company. But what if my Hotspot is from a mobile service with an unlimited data plan. Will that work,  ok? — Marie, San Diego.

Marie, that’s a great question. As you know, you need an Internet connection to stream Netflix on a Smart TV or some other device that offers streaming services, such as a Blu-ray player or Smart TV device.

Many mobile phones and tablets can run on 3G, 4G, LTE or other Internet plans — and, yes, you can create a Hotspot from your mobile device to create a wireless Internet network in your home. For instance, your wife and kids could access your Hotspot to surf the Net on their computer or other devices. (Consult the settings of your mobile to learn how to create a Hotspot.)

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Most Hotspots have data limits, and if you go over the data limit — which I guarantee you will if you start binging on Netflix — you will pay a fortune in overage charges.

But the Hotspot with an unlimited data plan could be a great alternative to buying an expensive Internet service from a cable or telco company.

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But before you go and set one up, here are a few cautions:

1. Yes, you can stream Netflix, or your other favorite streaming services, without fear of overages. But some unlimited plans come with a feature that will reduce the resolution of the picture once you start using a large amount of data. If you care about picture quality, this could be a real annoyance.

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2. Some Hotspots on mobile devices are not compatible with Smart TVs or even Smart TV devices. The set or set-top may detect the Hotspot connection, but you may not be able to actually connect to it to stream.

So before buying a long-term Hotspot plan, make sure your connected TV will be able to pick up the signal.

3. Hotspots sometimes will not produce a strong signal to your other devices in the home, which again could reduce the quality of your streaming picture.

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So, bottom line, the Hotspot with an unlimited plan removes the worry of excessive monthly charges, but there’s no guarantee it will work to your satisfaction, or at all. Again, before buying a long-term plan, give the the Hotspot a spin in your home for a few days.

— Phillip Swann

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24 comments on “Can I Stream Netflix With a Hotspot And Unlimited Data Plan?”

  1. I just signed up with Verizon, they said I could Stream from my IPad or phone with a lightning 2 HDMI cord. Do you know where I could get a cord that is longer than 6 feet. I am trying to get rid of my Windstream Internet Service and by doing so I could save almost $100.00

  2. I own a Nexus 6 (rooted) and have Verizon’s new Unlimited plan. My plan allows 15GB of LTE speed for mobile hotspot, then they say I will be throttled down to 600kbps, while regular browsing without hotspot is still high speed. I stream video heavily mostly via my Roku 3 and even when my 15gb of LTE hotspot has been used up, which only takes about 36 hours if I leave Hulu streaming while overnight, the overall streaming experience doesn’t suffer when the data speed isn’t at full pace LTE transfer. Of course some Roku channels require more data than others but honestly for the most part I’m pretty satisfied. I mostly watch YouTube, Hulu, Netflix, Bravo, and the E! Channel. Out of those 5 channels Hulu seems to be the slower one, when it used to be the fastest. Once they changed platforms and converted to the new plans is when I noticed that the buffering increased. But the buffering is short and if I pause the show for around 30 seconds I can usually make it through the rest without it being interrupted again. Netflix almost never buffers and the picture resolution remains near HD quality. Bravo and E! also stream without any hiccups at all and YouTube is probably the best out of all even on the live feed channels.

    So I’m very satisfied with my hotspot service from Verizon using the Roku device. I recently purchased a 4k TV and started using the 4k Roku stick and yes I can definitely see the higher quality picture especially on YouTube. I’ve actually tested Metro PCS which for a long time didn’t throttle my data at all on hotspot which was really nice considering their unlimited plan was only 60$ a mo. But I guess they finally updated the flawed system.

    I know that much of my success with overriding the slower speeds has to do with my device being a Nexus 6 and being rooted with a custom ROM.. I have the option in my settings to force LTE signal only which prevents my signal from dropping to 3G or even 1X. Even though my hotspot data doesn’t stream at full LTE speeds it’s still transfers at a fast enough pace to keep up with what I need.

    I live in a rural area that doesn’t offer any type of high speed DSL or Broadband internet at all. Only satellite service which is a major ripoff.

    So overall Nexus and Verizon are a convenient partnership.

  3. I have T-Mobile and use it as a hotspot. I live in a rural area with satellite as my only option. I can say that I use my hotspot to stream Netflix, Hulu and Amazon through my Smart TV. Out of the three Hulu is the only one that buffers. I’m thinking of getting a free 7 day trail to try Sling TV.

  4. I added Tmobile’s unlimited hotspot and signed up for Sling TV 4 days ago. It is not working as I had hoped. It occasionally buffers but the picture quality is awful. I refuse to pay $150 or more a month to watch TV and have internet. Guess it’s regular channels and an HD antenna. There are actually a lot of regular channels out there now. I figure, I did it growing up in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s… It won’t kill me to do it again.

    1. I have the same thing, unlimited hotspot and I subscribed to Sling tv. The quality is horrible. The speeds vary on hotspots and I was told it would work but it isn’t working. At least not good enough to enjoy anything you’re watching. I had to prepay for 2 months of sling but once those 2 months are up, I’m canceling that and my hotspot.

    2. I also tried Netflix with my hotspot. The picture quality isn’t great and is very fuzzy. I did have a few seconds here and there with a nice quality picture but not enough for me to continue with a hotspot. Same for Amazon Prime streaming only the picture was terrible on Prime.

  5. Where I live we have a broadband WiFi through Comcast. Because of this I cannot get Netflix for my tv. What should I get to use Roku?

  6. My 50 “euro” cents: I use my hotspotted phone to stream Netflix in HD to my TV via chromecast. I have a 100 giga plan which translates into about 2 hours of HD viewing per day. Having the hotspot means I don’t need to pay for home wifi; I connect to the hotspot with all my devices. The most important factor is that I have a strong 4g signal in my home as I am only a few hundred meters away from the 4g tower so Netflix streams perfectly.

  7. So I recently acquired Verizon unlimited data plan with 15 gigs of hotspot. My cable bill through cox Communication is $180 a month which is ridiculous. So unfortunately I fell behind with my cable bill and they wanted $230 to turn my cable back on. So as a last resort I use my hotspot to run Netflix on my smart TV. I have a Samsung you HD 4K TV. So Netflix is offered. The only problem I have run into is 15 gigs of hotspot only last about 6 to 8 hours. After that you are running on a lower resolution I’d say somewhere between 720 and maybe a little bit lower than that. Granted it’s great as a last resort as I like to watch TV when I sleep, if that makes any sense. So it’s great to hotspot when you have gigs left and it worked perfectly. Want to run out of juice resolution is not very good but it’s manageable. So manageable in fact I am debating getting rid of my cable altogether. Someone above inquired about an expanded lightning to HDMI cable And there has to be an easy fix for that such as lightning to HDMI cable to HDMI cable that’s extended. So yes if you don’t want to pay cable company for Internet you may use your hotspot if you have unlimited data only along with the smart TV.

  8. I have my phone hotspot. It connects to my smart TV. But won’t allow me to stream Netflix or any video for that matter I have straight talk unlimited plan. What should I do. I just want to watch Netflix

  9. For a long time I have “hotspotted” my cellphone with an almost unlimited data plan to watch Netflix on my TV using Chromecast. Works fine on a 4G connection.

  10. I have a roku but it says I need an internet connection when I try to connect to my hotspot? Isn’t a hotspot an internet connection? Do I need a different roku? I’m moving to a very remote area and would like to still be able to watch netflix, others on occasion. I have sling now, but guess I’ll cancel as it sounds as if most rural folks not getting good reception.
    I’m not smart with smart tv’s and iphones so any advice, assistance would be apprecidated.

  11. I have a Roku and I’m connected with T-Mobile 4G. Although it says unlimited data… when hotspotting, I’m only good for 100gb… after that it shuts down until my monthly time is refreshed back to 0.
    That only happened one time when I accidentally left my tablet connected for 3 days not knowing.
    If you’re a binge Watcher on Netflix YouTube…etc, you can save gigs by going to settings and use standard picture view instead of HD..

  12. I agree you should do a trial. Mine turned out well. I have a $40/month pre-paid plan from T-mobile with unlimited data. The first 10 GB are @ 4G, then it goes to 3G. I never used even 1G data, so I started using it as a hot spot for my computer, tablet and smart TV. Even when it goes to 3G, everything works fine. The Tv is not quite as clear, but fine. It really depends on how close you are to a tower, so try it. $40 for phone. Internet and Tv is sweet. It will all work this way when 5G arrives.

  13. I am using Visible cell service. I need a TV with WI-FI capabilities. Or smart TV. Do you have a recommendation for brand or specifications that will.serve me well? I know I could adapt my current 6 year old TV but I want a larger TV.

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