I have encountered this question and in accepted answer there is information that doesn't click

For instance, the iPhone 5 should theoretically be able to handle up to 14 connections, but both AT&T and Verizon limits it to 5.

How can carrier limit hot spot connections?

To clarify I own iPhone that uses sim card, and live in Europe.


There is a difference between theoretical and actual performance.

Theoretically, the wireless hardware inside the iPhone may be able to do more than 5 connections at once, but Apple and the carriers have limited it to 5 for power and data usage reasons. It's highly likely that having more than 5 connected devices would overwhelm your phone's battery, Wi-Fi radio, and cellular radio.

Think about something like the CPU inside your phone: it can technically run at 1GHz or higher, but if iOS ran the CPU at full tilt all the time, your phone would get really hot and the battery would die really quickly. Instead, iOS makes sure to only run the CPU at full tilt when you're doing something intensive (like photo editing or playing a game), and brings it back to low speed when you stop running the game (or the phone gets too hot).

As for carrier control, the iPhone (and cellular iPad) can download carrier profiles over-the-air and tell your phone how to connect to the cellular network and what restrictions exist (such as whether tethering is allowed or not).

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  • Yes I am sorry I didn't add much details in question. I know about the hardware limits my iPhone 5 while charging and on 4g network (and hot spoting) is really warm, I also know about the profiles (carrier firmware) but that can be removed if I am not mistaken, I was wondering if carrier "tracks" and somehow knows that I am sending requests from x different devices on BTS layer. – Kyslik Apr 11 '15 at 15:39
  • Your phone can report that information back to the carrier network. From a network perspective, no, I don't think they can identify it. However, remember that tethering talks to a different APN, so your carrier will know that you're using the tethering feature. – Jonathan J. Apr 11 '15 at 17:04

It's baked into the iOS as a configurable number and the carriers submit carrier profiles that contain their preferred limits.

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  • Haha, easy! This is what I was essentially looking for. Its baked in iOS. – Kyslik Feb 18 '16 at 6:46

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