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

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!

Comments 15 comments

jpaulnewman 4 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


alphajuno profile image

alphajuno 4 years ago from League City, TX Author

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


alphajuno profile image

alphajuno 4 years ago from League City, TX Author

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


jpaulnewman 4 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 image

alphajuno 4 years ago from League City, TX Author

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.


jpaulnewman 4 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 image

alphajuno 4 years ago from League City, TX Author

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


Steven Fleet 3 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 image

alphajuno 3 years ago from League City, TX Author

It's the WNCE2001. Good luck!


alphajuno profile image

alphajuno 3 years ago from League City, TX Author

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.


glassvisage profile image

glassvisage 3 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 image

alphajuno 3 years ago from League City, TX Author

Glad it worked for you!


wangChung 3 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?


bnancy 14 months 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?


alphajuno profile image

alphajuno 14 months ago from League City, TX Author

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.

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