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.
See all important details
Last updated: December 7, 2022

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