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Differences between LTE mobile broadband and Wi-Fi

Mobile broadband/LTE (referred as the cellular network) and Wi-Fi can be used to access the internet and perform activities requiring a data connection.


Learn differences between broadband/LTE and Wi-Fi

About mobile broadband/LTE
The AT&T mobile broadband/LTE1 network provides the backbone of AT&T wireless service.
  • Mobile broadband/LTE is available in most cities, suburbs, and many rural areas. The connection is over the air from cell towers to the device.
  • The range of access may span miles from the tower to the mobile device. Geographic features, building construction, or even weather can impact range and quality.
  • Connection speeds may vary depending on the technology used in the area.
  • A SIM card is required to connect to the mobile broadband/LTE network. 
  • Mobile broadband/LTE usage is billed from the monthly data allowance on the account. Overage charges* may result if monthly data allowance is exceeded.
  • A mobile broadband connection is required for picture (MMS) messaging and to use a personal mobile hotspot.

About Wi-Fi networks
Almost all smartphones and tablets are Wi-Fi compatible. Wi-Fi can enhance your experience in places where mobile broadband signal isn't optimal.
  • Wi-Fi is frequently found in public spaces such as airports, hotels, and coffee shops. Public Wi-Fi access may be free or have associated charges. View Understanding AT&T Wi-Fi Hot Spot for information about public Wi-Fi provided by AT&T.
  • Wi-Fi in home or office networks often requires password access.
  • Wi-Fi has a limited range of access, generally 150 feet. Once out of range, most devices will seamlessly switch to the mobile broadband/LTE network where available.
  • Using Wi-Fi on a mobile device doesn't draw from data bucket. Data usage while on Wi-Fi isn't counted toward monthly data allowances.
  • Text (SMS) and picture (MMS) messaging won't work over a Wi-Fi connection.
  • You can't set up a personal mobile hotspot (on a smartphone or dedicated mobile hotspot device) using a Wi-Fi connection. Visit Set up a mobile hotspot to share your mobile data bucket.
*Can I get my late fees or data overage charges waived if I am impacted by COVID-19?
We know that many people are experiencing economic hardships as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
AT&T is keeping you connected 24/7. As part of this effort, we’ll waive:
  • late payment fees for wireless, home phone or broadband residential customers
  • domestic wireless plan overage charges for data, voice or text for residential wireless customers
The waiver applies to these fees or charges you may incur between March 13, 2020, and May 13, 2020, due to economic hardship related to the coronavirus pandemic.

Have your user ID and password ready and click here to submit a waiver request.

Please allow one to two billing cycles to see your credit, if applicable.

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