Use a 4g Hotspot for Internet in Your Home or Mobile Network

Updated on November 17, 2016

Save Money, Go Wireless

Maybe you’ve been looking for a way to reduce your internet costs. Or, maybe you have a 4g hotspot and want to use it while you are on the road or while you are at home. In any event, with the 4g networks that may be available in your area, you can use a hotspot in your home network instead of using a cable or DSL modem.

Why Use a 4g Hotspot with my Network?

With a 4g hotspot, if you have multiple computers hooked up directly to it, all of your traffic goes through the hotspot. If you use it only for internet traffic, like you would use a cable or DSL modem, then you can take advantage of your network’s faster speeds for sharing files and data between computers in your network. Additionally, if you do not have an unlimited data plan (which may require a contract), then you can only incur data costs when you are retrieving data from the internet.

Wireless Ethernet Bridge

A wireless ethernet bridge can be used to use a 4g hotspot for communicating with the internet in your home or mobile network.
A wireless ethernet bridge can be used to use a 4g hotspot for communicating with the internet in your home or mobile network.

Some Quick Networking Tips

I will assume that you already have your home or mobile network set up with a router and switches (and understand the basic mechanics on setting it up). But, I’ll still give you some information on how you can create a network for your home. In my home network, I have computers all over the house (but I don’t have Ethernet wiring all over the house). We also have smart phones that hook up to the network.

For desktop computers that are not close to the router, I use XE-102 Netgear Wall-Plugged Bridges (you need one where the router is and one where you want the traffic to go) to send the router traffic through the home’s electrical wiring to a switch in the room where the other computers are. The data is limited to 5MB per second but this is fast enough for our needs. The switch is needed to hook up more than one computer (we have a printer and Wii along with the computers). Laptops and smart phones can hook up wirelessly to the network.

If you have a lone desktop computer, like in a bedroom, you can use a USB Wireless Adapter to hook it up to the network. If you have a lone Smart TV, then you can use a wireless Ethernet bridge and hook up the TV wirelessly to the network using its Ethernet port.

Mobile Hotspot Connected to Network

The mobile hotspot (not shown) is providing internet to the wireless ethernet bridge which is in turn connected by ethernet to the internet port in the router.
The mobile hotspot (not shown) is providing internet to the wireless ethernet bridge which is in turn connected by ethernet to the internet port in the router.

What Do I Need to Add a 4g Hotspot to my Network?

What is less known is that you can also use a wireless Ethernet bridge to use a 4g Hotspot instead of a cable or DSL modem. You might have to modify the directions a bit to use it since the instructions for my WNCE2001 Netgear Universal WiFi Internet Adapter (aka wireless Ethernet bridge) assumed I was hooking it up to a Smart TV or a Blue Ray DVD player. You can get an adapter for under $50.

What you have to do first is to set up the adapter so that it can talk to your 4g Hotspot. I used a desktop computer that was not hooked up to my home network and then plugged in the Ethernet cable and power cable for the adapter. Then I added the password information for the 4g Hotspot after it found it through its wireless search of the devices I had turned on in the house. After concluding the setup, all three lights on the adapter were lit which meant it was now communicating to the 4g Hotspot.

Next, I removed the adapter from the desktop computer and used the Ethernet cable to plug it into the Internet port on the router. The router then treated it like any modem and then all of the computers/devices hooked up to the main network could use it to access the internet. Now I was cooking with gas.

Yes, But How Fast Is It?

The 4g network you use will determine your upload/download speeds but some networks routinely deliver over 10MB per second for download which will allow you to do almost anything (like stream videos/shows). Make sure that you can access the 4g network before you take the plunge. With my network provider, I typically get speeds about 4.5MB per second which is slower than cable but faster than regular 3MB per second DSL.

What 4g options Do I Have?

There are lots of options. Even Walmart sells mobile hot spots and has plans you can sign up for. You can try your local wireless providers to see what they have to offer or go to their website and look at their coverage maps. Some providers are buying bandwith on wireless provider networks so make sure you check the provider they use to see if you have 4g available. I have only tried out T-Mobile and we are satisfied with the service we are getting. Additionally, we are saving money over what we used to pay for cable – that was our primary objective.

How Do I Keep My 4g Hotspot Network Going?

I’ve learned a couple of things that may be helpful. Your mobile hotspot may be designed to go to sleep when it’s not being used. As long as my adapter is powered on, it keeps the hotspot awake. This was a problem when we testing it out and hooking up our devices directly to the hotspot (instead of through the network).

If a problem does occur, the Netgear router has Barbara Eden or something called a Genie. By clicking on the “Fix” function on the Genie, it restores the internet connection.

Your network users may be tempted to try to fix the problem themselves using the Windows troubleshooter for example. Discourage them from doing so otherwise the settings might be inadvertently changed on the adapter (yes, that’s happened). As long as they are connected locally, then the problem is probably not between them and the router. So, the Genie should be used to talk to adapter in this case. If it’s not hooked up to the network locally then check your Ethernet connections or see if your wireless network connection needs to be reconnected.

Other things to check are to make sure your hotspot didn’t go to sleep and is still getting its 4g signal. You can hook a laptop or smartphone directly to the hotspot to see if you can get internet directly. Then you know where the problem isn’t.

Another tried and true admin trick is to unplug everything electrically and try again. The hotspot should be plugged in first until it’s showing it’s connected to your wireless provider. Then the adapter is plugged in. It should indicate that it has power and Internet (my indicator is WLAN). Then, plug in the router and the LAN indicator should come light up on the adapter again and you are good to go.

Enjoy! Let me know if you take the plunge too!

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    • profile image

      ozzie agman 

      2 months ago

      I just want to know how to use Hotspot [in my Apartment] to access the internet.And how do I identify or locate it-Hotspot. A step by step through the process will be quite helpful.Thanks

    • alphajuno profile imageAUTHOR

      alphajuno 

      5 months ago from League City, TX

      Hi Vinnie,

      The WNCE 3001 is a newer version that has dual band and higher transfer rates. I haven't tested it but it should work and the 5 Ghz band has better range. Little more expensive but has better specs.

    • profile image

      Vinnie 

      5 months ago

      What is the difference between Netgear WNCE 2001 and Netgear WNCE 3001?

    • alphajuno profile imageAUTHOR

      alphajuno 

      6 months ago from League City, TX

      Hi Dorothy,

      With the hotspot enabled on your phone, click on the Network and Internet Services link available by clicking on the laptop icon (lower toolbar - may have to click the up arrow to see more options) that has a dot and three partial circles surrounding the dot. Then, click on the name of your phone's hotspot and enter the password you set up with it. After connecting, you will have internet on your laptop through your phone's hotspot. Hope this helps! Happy internet surfing!

    • profile image

      Dorothy Pettit 

      6 months ago

      have hot spot wifi on my lap top computer. Hot spot is in my Verizon phone and I get internet service. I would like free internet service on my lap top computer.

    • alphajuno profile imageAUTHOR

      alphajuno 

      12 months ago from League City, TX

      Monika,

      Sorry I missed your comment earlier. You can add internet to your Blu Ray DVD by using a wireless ethernet bridge such as the WNCE2001 Netgear Universal WiFi Internet Adapter. The bridge (adapter), gets a wireless internet signal from your AT&T hotspot and you can probably hook an ethernet cable from the bridge (adapter) directly to the Blu Ray player. You may also be able to wirelessly connect the hotspot to the Blu Ray if it takes a wi-fi signal. If you have too many wireless connections, you will need to invest in a router and connect it to the bridge (adapter) as described in the article. Good luck!

    • alphajuno profile imageAUTHOR

      alphajuno 

      12 months ago from League City, TX

      Hi Dean,

      The solution I used was the WNCE2001 Netgear Universal WiFi Internet Adapter. It takes the wireless signal from your hotspot and then you hook up an ethernet cable from it to the router. Basically you want a wireless ethernet bridge such as the WNCE2001 Netgear Universal WiFi Internet Adapter. It can also go directly to a computer if not using a router. Good luck!

    • profile image

      Dean 

      12 months ago

      I am building a house and will be living in an RV for 8+ months. I work at home with a Corp desktop that is "lockdown" to only receive Ethernet cable from a house router. How can I connect my T-Mobile hotspot to my Desktop with an Ethernet cable? Thank you

    • profile image

      MONIKA 

      14 months ago

      HEY IF I HAVE A WIRELESS HOTSPOT FOR ATT

    • alphajuno profile imageAUTHOR

      alphajuno 

      18 months ago from League City, TX

      Yes Elizabeth, you are right. You would not have to update your work laptop's connection method (wireless or wired) or password due to using a hotspot/Ethernet bridge input to your router instead of a cable internet input.

    • profile image

      Elizabeth 

      18 months ago

      So just to be clear, with a wireless bridge to a router and a 4g hotspot I can use my work laptop with the same connectivity as I would with my cable/internet connected by the blue cable to the modem?

    • alphajuno profile imageAUTHOR

      alphajuno 

      21 months ago from League City, TX

      Chandra,

      I think it would be hard to say for sure if everyone would save money. More wireless carriers are offering unlimited data these days so that's good for "cutting the cord" to wired internet. Check to see too if the wireless company limits your internet speeds at some point too and if you can live with that. All in all though, this is a good alternative for people looking to save money.

    • profile image

      Chandra 

      21 months ago

      Can you update how things are now? Do you save money versus using the cable company? What is the price difference like?

    • alphajuno profile imageAUTHOR

      alphajuno 

      23 months ago from League City, TX

      Good luck with it Anne!

    • profile image

      Anne Swatfigure 

      23 months ago

      Thank you. I stream all my entertainment and have a desktop computer so I thought I needed to pay $60 a month to Charter Spectrum for their so so service. You've shown me another way that could be cheaper.

    • alphajuno profile imageAUTHOR

      alphajuno 

      2 years ago from League City, TX

      Hi, there are travel routers that will take a hotspot signal and then allow multiple devices to be hooked up to it. I haven't tested one. The good thing about using two devices is that "regular" routers are mature and function very well. I think the number of devices that can be connected should be checked if you decide to try an all-in-one option. Netgear makes a Trek N300 travel router that may be an option. One person had 7 devices hooked up but not sure what the limit is... It uses the Netgear Genie app which can be accessed from your smart phone which is handy if there are problems. I actually might buy one of these because of the multiple functions but not sure at this point. It should be able to remember your hotspot I think but again, haven't tested. Good luck!

    • profile image

      llcoolFish0508 

      2 years ago

      okay so I don't have my home network set up yet. we have just simply been operating off of my mobile hospot for years. no home network. But with all of our devices (xbox 1, Alexa, ipads, smart tv etc... we are running out of connected device space that our hotspot will allow) We have unlimited data so that is not a concern, but I am trying to figure out how to set up a home network that would allow me to get my hotspot configured at home to connect with a router and then share out to our devices. I've been doing some research but my concern is when I leave home/turning off the hotspot will I have to reconfigure and put back in the wifi password each time? Am I going to need a Router and a bridge or are there devices that function as both now that would fulfill my needs? Thanks!

    • alphajuno profile imageAUTHOR

      alphajuno 

      3 years ago from League City, TX

      If your TV is coming through your hotspot, then yes. Video for TV shows uses a lot of data. There is a move afoot to make video less data intensive but then quality might suffer too - so I don't know if we will see that any time soon.

    • profile image

      bnancy 

      3 years ago

      I have a hotspot for my computer, kindles and phone, my TV is also connected to it, my data is being used up within days of my monthly bill, I don't do anything except pay my bills, use face book, play a couple of games, everything was fine until lately when my bill went crazy what could be causing this, does recording regular programing on my TV use extreme amounts of data?

    • profile image

      wangChung 

      5 years ago

      So the wireless ethernet bridge is talking to your mobile hotspot via WiFi, hence the name. But what if I have a mobile hotspot usb stick? Are there any ethernet bridges that allow me to connect the USB stick directly?

    • alphajuno profile imageAUTHOR

      alphajuno 

      5 years ago from League City, TX

      Glad it worked for you!

    • glassvisage profile image

      glassvisage 

      5 years ago from Northern California

      I never considered this as a money-saving measure until I moved to a place where home internet is not available. I looked into any options and a couple friends told me about how they use their phones as hotspots. Sure enough, it works for me and it's cheaper than what my neighbors have :) Great Hub!

    • alphajuno profile imageAUTHOR

      alphajuno 

      5 years ago from League City, TX

      I'm pretty sure you understood it but remember that the wireless ethernet bridge goes from your internet connection to your home network. It will only distribute the internet to a single device, preferably a router... As far as I know there are not any routers that also function as a wireless ethernet bridge (like a router would do for a modem). The bridge is in place of a modem, essentially.

    • alphajuno profile imageAUTHOR

      alphajuno 

      5 years ago from League City, TX

      It's the WNCE2001. Good luck!

    • profile image

      Steven Fleet 

      5 years ago

      Really interesting post. Was just about to buy a netgear to share my iphone 5 hotspot around the house. Could you tell me what model of wifi client you got off ebay.

    • alphajuno profile imageAUTHOR

      alphajuno 

      6 years ago from League City, TX

      Excellent, glad it worked! Hubs are handy to have. We use ours to play LAN games when we are away from home.

    • profile image

      jpaulnewman 

      6 years ago

      Well it works! :-)

      I received my new Wifi Client last week which was cheap from eBay ($25) and it works exactly as I need!

      My hotspot also requires a password which needs to be entered into the wifi client first, which is even connected into a small hub to allow several ethernet devices to connect to my phone hotspot wifi network.

    • alphajuno profile imageAUTHOR

      alphajuno 

      6 years ago from League City, TX

      Quite right. The Apple expert I spoke to said it couldn't be done at first. One difference is that my hotspot is made to be connected to so it has a password that i can enter into the bridge. I am an Android user and there is an app that will allow the phone to connect to at least a computer but I did not explore this since that carrier could not supply 4g. Good luck.

    • profile image

      jpaulnewman 

      6 years ago

      Yes, I've spoken to my mobile phone provider as well as Apple and Netgear, but they all seem to suggest it should work.

      It's an interesting problem that some people tell me "won't work" (But can't explain why!), and others tell me it "should work". But surprisingly, very few other people seem to be have tried to do this.

    • alphajuno profile imageAUTHOR

      alphajuno 

      6 years ago from League City, TX

      Another idea is to make sure your cellular provider lets you do this.

    • alphajuno profile imageAUTHOR

      alphajuno 

      6 years ago from League City, TX

      The wireless bridge scanned for available connections so I just had to select the right one. Good luck with your new bridge!

    • profile image

      jpaulnewman 

      6 years ago

      Hi, thanks for the interesting article.

      I am in the UK and I'm trying to do something similar by using my iPhone to provide a 3G hotspot for my local network. I also have a WNCE2001 Netgear Universal WiFi Internet Adapter, but it doesn't recognise my phone hotspot as a wifi network. I've just ordered a different wireless bridge to try next. Did you have to do anything to the wireless Ethernet bridge for it to find your 4G hotspot?

      Thanks, Paul

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