Using a SIM card, and a SIM card reader, what other equipment do you need to connect a computer that doesn't have support for cellular connectivity to a cellular network?

My understanding of SIM cards and mobile networks is that they are simply smart cards that only authenticate your access to a mobile network and that the cellular device is what actually facilitates the mobile connection.

  • Most people connect a computer to a cellular network using a WiFi mobile hotspot. – Appleoddity Nov 16 at 4:28
  • Well, yes, but the "mobile hotspot" is still just a cellular modem regardless of its shape. – grawity Nov 16 at 9:24
  • It's a bit unusual to have a SIM card reader not part of a modem. Are you sure you don't actually have a modem that includes that reader? – jcaron Nov 16 at 15:43
  • You can use USB to share your mobile network with PC. You can refer to: makeuseof.com/tag/tethering-use-mobile-internet-pc – Peter.G Nov 20 at 9:13
up vote 9 down vote accepted

Nowadays most people use an LTE personal Wi-Fi hotspot, or enable the personal hotspot or tethering feature of their smartphone.

If you don't want a separate device with its own power to manage, then you need a cellular radio card (a.k.a. "wireless modem", "LTE modem", "LTE USB stick" etc. ). You can buy them from Sierra Wireless, Novatel, ZTE, Huawei, and others. They cost as low as $25 US. It's a different radio technology than Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. It's probably best to contact your wireless carrier and ask if they have a preferred USB LTE modem for their network. The modem will have its own SIM card slot.

  • 7
    Hm... on amazon.com, an LTE USB stick goes for 20-50 US$. Where did you get the $200 figure? – sleske Nov 16 at 11:25
  • 1
    Also many high-end Lenovo and Dell laptops have LTE build-in modems nowadays. In that case You just need to check where the SIM card slot is. – Skipper Nov 16 at 12:34
  • It sounds like the question is looking for something even more basic as the machine already has a SIM card reader. – kasperd Nov 16 at 15:12
  • 1
    @sleske Thanks, fixed. I think I was only looking at the longstanding brands I trust and not the recent import brands. – Spiff Nov 16 at 15:36
  • @kasperd A SIM card is just a smart card variant that the wireless telephony industry adopted, and I've seen people confuse the two before, so I figured OP just had a smart card reader and he didn't realize it had nothing to do with wireless data service. – Spiff Nov 16 at 15:40

You need a mobile hotspot, or a cellular modem. Both devices connect to a cellular network and need a data plan from that cellular provider.

Your Answer

By clicking "Post Your Answer", you acknowledge that you have read our updated terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy, and that your continued use of the website is subject to these policies.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.