So, you’ve had your Surface 3 for just a month or two and Microsoft announces that the LTE version is about to be released and now you are wishing you had waited because LTE would be really cool. Don’t worry all is not lost.
If you want to have LTE connectivity on your Surface 3 or Surface Pro 3, what are your options then?
I’m sure Microsoft would prefer that you pick up an LTE version of the Surface 3 but what if you don’t want to spend the extra money? What if you’re happy with your current Surface otherwise?
It turns out that you have a couple of options and I’m going to tell you what they are…
Give your Surface 3 or Surface Pro 3 LTE Capability: Tethering
If you have a data-plan on your smart phone, you can probably setup your phone as a Wi-Fi hotspot. This will let you use your phone as a relay to get on the network from just about anywhere you can get a few bars.
Below is a quick a list of advantages and disadvantages of tethering.
Easy to do
Doesn’t cost anything extra
Drains two batteries
Requires a smart phone
Requires you carry both devices
Can be a security risk
Kind of sucks when driving
If you want to tether your Surface to your smartphone, the steps will be slightly different depending on the type of phone you have. In all cases though, the first thing you will need to do is setup the Wi-Fi hot spot.
You can find some guidance on how to do that below:
Once it’s setup, simply connect your Surface to the hot spot as you would any other Wi-Fi network.
Give your Surface 3 or Surface Pro 3 LTE Capability: External 4G LTE Modem
Now, let’s say that you don’t want to tether your Surface 3 or Surface Pro 3 to your phone because of one of the disadvantages I listed above.
Or, maybe, you want to keep your network use separate because the Surface is a work device and you don’t want to use your personal data-plan.
You also have the option of using an external LTE modem connected directly to your Surface.
As with tetering, there are advantages and disadvantages.
Easy to do
It’s only “ON” when in use
Doesn’t have an extra battery to keep charged
Can be easily upgraded (3G to 4G for example)
Costs extra money (for the device and data-plan)
Is an extra device to carry
In general, all you need to do to get this to work is get an external LTE modem, get a SIM card for it (with a data-plan), plug it into your Surface via the USB port, and load some drivers.
In addition to USB connected LTE modems, you can, also, get a mobile hot spot which acts like any other Wi-Fi router except it is battery operated and portable.
So, if you already have a smart phone and you don’t mind the disadvantages, then tethering it is your best option for getting LTE. But, if you don’t want to deal with two devices, while say…driving, then it is far easier to get one of the external LTE 4G modems. In any case, you have options.
Here are some examples of unlocked LTE 4G modems you can buy from Amazon. There are many more options, including versions directly from wireless companies like AT&T and Verizon:
But, hey, you can also just invest in a Surface 3 LTE as soon as they are available – it’s all a personal preference.
Tim Rolston is a professional geek with over 23 years of experience working in Information Technology and dealing with everything from large-scale storage to remote systems management and automation for organizations such as Texas Instruments, Mobil Oil, and the University of Michigan (where he was an Academic IT Director).
He co-founded JTRTech along with Joanna to realize his long-time dream of working for himself.