Expert Telecommunications & Internet Solutions

How can I connect my laptop or tablet to the internet via my smartphone?

If you are on a train and want to connect to the internet using your laptop or tablet then your best option is to use the WiFi service provided by many train operators. This may be a free or chargeable service depending on the train operator and whether or not you are in first-class.

If it is a free service then you should use it. But what if its not free or what if there is no WiFi service on your particular train? What are your options?

There are basically two options. One is to purchase a 3G (or 4G) dongle and plug it into a USB port on your laptop (this is not usually possible on a tablet device).

A 3G dongle is the term given to a device enables connection to the internet over a mobile network by plugging it into a USB port on a laptop or other device. It may also be known as a GSM USB modem.

The other option is to connect your laptop or tablet via WiFi to your mobile phone using a process known as tethering.

Using a 3G dongle is a straightforward process, but tethering is more complex.

To tether your laptop to your mobile phone you first need a smartphone that supports tethering and a service provider that allows it.

You may, for example, have a smartphone that supports tethering, but it may have been disabled on the phone by your service provider. There are ways round this which are too complex for this article.

Lets assume that you have a smartphone that supports tethering and the service is not disabled.

When you activate tethering on your smartphone you change it from being a WiFi client to being a WiFi access point. You give the phone a WiFi ID (eg MyWiFi) and you create a security password. A password is essential otherwise everyone in your carriage would be able to connect to the internet via your smartphone!

You then connect your laptop or tablet to your smartphone WiFi access point in the same way that you would connect to any other WiFi access point. Once you are connected you can then browse the internet using your smartphone’s 3G connection.

Tethering is useful in many other situations where you need internet access using your laptop or tablet and there is no other internet connection available.

When using tethering you should be aware of your smartphone’s data allowance and also the limitations of your situation. For example, a fast moving train through a remote rural area is not ideal for a 3G internet connection, but this would also apply to the train’s own WiFi internet service.

You can also tether to your smartphone using a cable connection, but in my experience WiFi tethering is easier and just as reliable.

Get in touch with Premitel if you have a specific requirement or if you wish to discuss how your business could make better and more cost-effective use of its existing telecommunications and internet infrastructure and services.