Eli5: How can my phone provide internet services without wifi but my laptop can’t?


I travel w/my trucker husband & of course I do just about everything on my phone from banking to stream cartoons. But my laptop is a paperweight out here on the road. How does my phone supply an internet browser if my laptop can’t?

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6 Answers

Anonymous 0 Comments

Your mobile phone has a connection to your cell service provider’s internet connection. Your laptop doesn’t.

However, you can enable a WiFi Hotspot on your phone (On Android, this is Settings > Connection & Sharing > Personal hotspot). This should allow your laptop to connect to your cell phone and use its internet connection.

Just remember to turn the Hotspot off when connecting to a regular WiFi connection (eg: at a cafe or when returning home.)

Anonymous 0 Comments

When your phone isn’t connected to wifi, it connects to your cellular provider. That network provides a data connection for you to connect to the internet just like your modem at home connects to your internet service provider to provide data.

So instead of connecting to wifi, the phone is connecting to your cellular provider. If you had a laptop with a SIM card slot, you could add a data only SIM card to it (depending on your carrier) that would give you this same experience of having internet without wifi.

Just like wifi and Ethernet at home, cellular is just another method of connecting.

Anonymous 0 Comments

If your laptop has a WWAN adapter and a SIM card in it it will be ale to make a WLAN hotspot too.

The thing is that you need something that will be able to talk with the cellular network to have mobile internet.

Cellphones have this as a standard component, because they need it to be cellphones. Tablets, notebooks or ebook readers generally don’t necessarily need it and have it as an optional extra.

it is just a small chip on on PCI card the size of your thumbnail and your average business laptop will have a connector for it on the mainboard and a slot for the SIM card it needs to function.

The thing is that you don’t really need it. How often do you use a laptop in places where there is no WLAN?

More importantly, how often do you need to connect your laptop to the internet in places with no WLAN when you don’t have a cell phone to provide it with a WLAN HotSpot/Tether.

You only really need one dedicated device to connect to the cell notwork and share that with all you other devices. Your phone is it.

Anonymous 0 Comments

It can if you buy a dongle for it. It just doesn’t come with a built in SIM card or cellular antennas like your phone, so it can’t connect to those data networks.

Anonymous 0 Comments

A lot of people are talking about the SIM card but aren’t really giving it any explanation. It’s basically an ID card that gets tied to you so your phone company knows who you are when your phone connects to the towers. It allows them to look you up and see how much data you’ve purchased and used and decides whether to let you use more or not or throttle/charge for the data.

Your laptop may or may not have an antenna that is capable of sending/receiving the same frequency as the phone/cell towers, but even if it did, your carrier doesn’t recognize the device because it has no SIM card and so it will not send any data to/from the Internet for it.

Actually, your ISP also has to know every device that connects to their hubs and whether it’s owned by someone that purchased Internet through them and what speeds/caps. The thing is, your laptop doesn’t connect directly to the hub. It connects to your router/modem which connects to their hub. And unless they’re being shady and giving you altered equipment, they can’t tell what device is accessing the Internet through your router. And your phone can do the same thing with WiFi hotspot. It turns your phone into the router, and your cell carrier has no idea that the data is coming from the laptop originally, but they probably have a way to know that hot spotting is turned on and throttle data speeds.

Anonymous 0 Comments

>How does my phone supply an internet browser if my laptop can’t?

Your phone connects to cell towers, which transmit the information. Your laptop doesn’t.