Do I Need Internet Service to Use My Wireless Laptop?

By Shannon Burton

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To answer this question, it is necessary to find out what you want to use your laptop for and where you want to use it. Obviously, if you want to use your laptop for activities that don’t require the Internet, then there is no need for Internet service at home or wherever you want to take your laptop; just because it is wireless does not mean it requires an Internet connection to operate. If you do want to get online, though, there are a couple things you should know.

Wireless Laptops Don’t "Come" With Internet

With the help of many new wireless Internet devices and Wi-Fi hotspots, you really can take your laptop just about anywhere and connect wirelessly to the Internet. However, this does not mean that the connection will always be free. Some public places such as airports, cafes and libraries may offer a free Internet connection if you are in their area, but many places have Wi-Fi and require you to pay to use it. In this case, your laptop will detect the network but be unable to connect without the “security key” or some type of payment you can make on your computer or at a counter. If you are home and you don’t have Internet service at home, though, your wireless laptop has no Internet to connect to, so you can’t get online. Also, if you do have Internet service at home, but it is not wireless (meaning you have to plug an Ethernet cord into a computer to go online), you will still have to plug in the Ethernet cord or buy a wireless router to make your Internet connection wireless.

Wireless Internet Service Is Easier to Get Than Ever

Some cell phones can be connected to a computer and be used as a modem to connect to the Internet. If this is possible with your phone, be sure to call your phone company first and find out if any extra charges will apply, as they often do. If you’re lucky, though, you may have a plan that includes this kind of connection free. If not, you may be able to add it to your plan or buy a small USB device from your phone company that will give you Internet access at a monthly charge. Most Internet companies also offer small wireless Internet devices (at a monthly or yearly charge) that can be plugged into your laptop or hooked up to emit a wireless signal wherever you bring them, so that you can have Internet connection on your laptop wherever you take it.