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Can your mobile device replace your home internet connection?

Virginia Brown

Mar 13, 2020 — 3 min read

Thinking about relying solely on cellular data for home internet access? Here are a few things to consider before you take that step.

Our phones have become so much more than just communication devices. Consider this — from mobile banking and connecting with friends and family over social media to working remotely via Google Drive and accessing email from the Starbucks line — it’s a wonder any of us still have a desktop at all. 

Factor in the compact size and portability of the average smartphone and many of us are finding we don’t have much use for a clunky desktop or laptop anymore. 

But can that little magical friend in your pocket serve as even more — and provide you with a way to bypass the often-high price of home internet service? Is that practical? (After all, you’re already paying for internet data with your phone plan, so sharing that while you’re at home seems a wise and efficient choice, right?)

So, can you use your phone data for home internet?

The short answer? Yes. You can use your smartphone to access an internet connection for your laptop, for example. You simply have to set up Wi-Fi tethering, or your “personal hotspot,” on any Android or iOS phone

Great! you may be thinking. Problem solved. Money saved in my monthly budget

Not so fast. Before you call up to cancel that service, you really want to think long and hard about what you use the internet for. According to Lifehacker, there are a couple of things you want to be mindful of before you ditch that connection, full stop:


Accessing the internet through your phone’s Wi-Fi is likely going to produce far slower connection speeds than the much more powerful signals of a router. Even the cheapest level of internet access from your provider is likely going to deliver speeds far superior to any phone. 

Huge video viewer? That becomes a serious roadblock for you. While you’ll still be able to access streaming services like Netflix, downloads will take a long time, and that goes for system updates and uploading photos or other large data to the cloud. In short, it’ll all just take forever. 

Are there other ways to cut your bill?

Take advice from a senior technology editor at Lifehacker and keep your fast internet, but find other ways to reduce your cellphone bill — or, cut back on other bills. You could always consider, for example, using Google Voice or Zoom to make and receive calls when you’re at home. Then you can shrink your phone services to reduce data and keep unlimited talking and texting. 

It’s really just a matter of what you’re willing to do without and what your needs are at home. If you’re someone who scrolls Instagram for your entire train commute to and from work, you’d have to give that up under the above scenario — and maybe you’re not willing to take it that far just yet. 

Use this quiz to see if cellular data is right for you.

Is cancelling at-home internet and using your cellular data a good choice for you?

Using a hotspot drains your phone battery. Do you have a newer model, a reliable phone? 

  1. You bet. I’m all set.
  2. Sadly, no. My phone constantly dies on me — it’s on my list to get a new one when I can afford it!

Are you looking to save some money at all costs, and you’re willing to make some sacrifices at home?

  1. Yes. I’ll do anything to cut back on my monthly costs.
  2. No, I won’t change my habits. 

Do you mostly just send a few attachment-less emails and shop a bit online?

  1. Yes. I don’t really use my internet a ton when I leave work.
  2. No, I scroll social apps and stream lots of videos.

If you answered 1. for much of the above, you may want to consider cutting the proverbial cord at home and using your phone’s data. If not, consider that it’s a big jump and you may want to stick it out for now.

Connect with our experts on Facebook and Twitter to compare phone and internet plans to make sure you’re getting the right service to fit your needs. And be sure to stay plugged into our Resource Center for the latest developments on when or how to cut the cord.

Alex Sheehan

Written by:

Alex Sheehan

Contributing Writer

Hey! I’m Alexandra Sheehan, a self-employed content strategist and copywriter for B2B companies in the retail, e-commerce and travel industries. I’ve also written for Verizon, Four Season Hotels and Resorts,… Read more

Robin Layton

Edited by:

Robin Layton

Editor, Broadband Content

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