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Solved SOLVED: Connected my ASUS router to the Internet via USB-tethered Android and having VPN issues

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Hello! I have a SIM card with a data plan, I inserted it into an Android phone, connected the phone via USB to my Asus RT-AX53U and then hoped to connect the final device to the router while enjoying the router's built-in VPN client -- but it's not working unfortunately. I'm currently travelling and am in a new location with no Internet to rely on other than the SIM card.

At home my setup is the same except for my internet originates not from a USB-tethered phone, rather another "mother" router connected to my ASUS with a wired connection.

So to my surprise, in this new setup with the phone, the router's VPN client connection does not activate. After I hit Activate, the ball keeps rolling in the Connection Status window then resulting in a big fat X (where there's the "-" in the screenshot)

Screen Shot 02-10-24.PNG

I remember that back home, after setting up the VPN client on the router, I think I had to go into the WAN section and disable automatic DNS and enter the DNS provided by my VPN provider. But! When a phone is tethered to the router via USB, there is no option to change DNS setting. That option is available only when the WAN type is set to WAN, it is not available when set to USB.

So in the end I cannot enjoy the router's VPN protection.

Could anyone possibly help figure this out? I so so need this to work.

Some things to consider that make it all a bit complicated:
--unfortunately there's no way to install the VPN on the final device. So it needs to be installed upstream. I tried to install the VPN on the phone, both through Strong Swan and OpenVPN Connect but the VPN connection refuses to activate -- now that I typed this, I wonder if the issue could be with the cell phone service provider... Any thoughts? Any ideas? Thank you so much for your support!
--I also have a spare laptop with me. Can it be used to help the situation? Maybe I could first receive the SIM card's Internet via the laptop's WIFI, then pass it on to the ASUS router via a wired connection -- in which case I will be able to set the router to the regular WAN with adjustable DNS?
I am so confused. My head is about to explode. A fresh perspective in laymen's terms would be so much appreciated. I'm a dummy in this.
Welcome to the forums @dmikra.

Your phone isn't giving the router a public IP.
It sounds like your cell provider is blocking VPN connections. Try a VPN profile that uses TCP/443 rather than UDP.

Don't change the router's WAN DNS settings.
It sounds like your cell provider is blocking VPN connections. Try a VPN profile that uses TCP/443 rather than UDP.

Don't change the router's WAN DNS settings.
Used TCP/443 and set DNS to automatic but again to no avail. Interestingly, on my laptop the Windscribe VPN chrome extension works, the Windscribe desktop PC application doesn't. Because one thing works, it gives me hope I can still figure it out?
When you try to enable the VPN client on the router and it fails look in the router's System Log. It should tell you the reason for the failure.
I'll get that log to you, no problem.

I have just read up and realized that the location where I'm traveling blocks VPN on a national level including OpenVPN.

But after much experimentation I was able to figure out that the ExpressVPN app does work here both on PC and Android.

So I was able to install it on my phone, turn the VPN on, then connect the phone to router through USB tethering, and then connect the final device to the router. However, the final device thinks I'm at the exact location I'm at, so apparently the phone, even though the VPN is turned on on it, doesn't send "VPNed" Internet to the router, I guess?

Also, FYI, I was able to get ExpressVPN going on PC as well. So perhaps there's a way to send the "VPNed" Internet from my PC to my final device? (The final device connects with an Ethernet cable).
Guys, happy to report that I have resolved this:
When you're like me in a location that blocks VPNs on a global scale, you need to forget about using the OpenVPN client on the router -- it just won't work. So instead I first feed my SIM card Internet into my laptop, create a VPN connection on laptop, then send that VPN connection to the router, and then connect the final device to the router (possibly you can send out the VPN connection from laptop directly to final device, but I didn't try it).

1) So forget about tethering the phone into modem.
2) Instead turn on Mobile Hotspot on phone to broadcast the SIM card's internet.
3) Connect laptop to phone's WIFI broadcast through the mobile hotspot.
4) Install ExpressVPN app for PC on laptop. I recommend specifically ExpressVPN because where I'm at it was the only thing that was able to create a VPN connection (NordVPN and Windscribe failed). Connect to VPN through app. So now the SIM card's internet is on the laptop in the VPNed form.
5) Plug an ethernet cable from laptop (connects to my laptop through USB-C adapter) to router's WAN port.
6) On laptop go to Start -> Settings -> Network & Internet ->Status. Click on Change adapter options. In the Network connections window, choose the Local Area Connection with "ExpressVPN TUN Driver" words next to it, right-click, Properties, Sharing, check the box for Allow other network users to connect through this computer’s Internet connection. Under Home networking connection, select your Ethernet connection, OK. This way you're sending the product of #4 through the ethernet cable out the laptop into the router.
7) Plug in the final device with an Ethernet cable into a LAN port of the router. DONE!

I want to thank you so much for your support and for helping me get out of the stuck mode! Your messages helped me brainstorm and look at alternatives and get out of the box! You're amazing!

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