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It’s possible to use Wi-Fi without a router by using your phone as an ad hoc Wi-Fi hotspot. You can use it as a makeshift router if you have a fast internet connection and a smartphone. Alternatively, you can ask a neighbor to let you share their internet connection if they live close enough.

holding phone with wifi icons over city

How Can I Get Wi-Fi Without a Router?

Most people typically connect their devices to the internet whenever they need to access the internet. However, Wi-Fi isn’t always available, and not all mobile devices can use a cellular connection. As long as you have a smartphone with a cellular connection, you can always use Wi-Fi without a router.

Apart from using your phone as a Wi-Fi hotspot, there are several other ways to get Wi-Fi without a router. However, most of these solutions are workarounds that aren’t as reliable as a dedicated Wi-Fi router.

Here are some of the best solutions to try when you need a Wi-Fi internet connection without a dedicated router:

Mobile Wi-Fi Hotspot

Most recent phones have the Wi-Fi hotspot functionality that lets your phone act as an ad hoc router for Wi-Fi. To create a Wi-Fi hotspot with your smartphone, you need a strong cellular connection for fast internet.

Using your phone’s hotspot feature will use from your monthly cellular data plan, potentially driving up your monthly bill. In addition, with the hotspot feature, you can connect multiple devices to your phone, with the phone serving as the router.

Using a mobile Wi-Fi hotspot is the cheapest way to use Wi-Fi without a router. If you’re not crossing your monthly data cap, you should be able to share your internet without incurring extra costs. While you can use your computer as a hotspot, you’ll first connect it to a router, which is illogical.

USB Tethering

If your phone doesn’t offer Wi-Fi hotspot functionality, you may be unable to share your internet connection across devices. However, most recent Android phones and iPhones allow USB tethering, which allows you to share the internet via USB.

USB tethering is similar to a mobile Wi-Fi hotspot, but it has many more restrictions. For one, you can only connect the primary device to a single device when sharing your internet. However, with hotspot tethering, the primary device may act as an ad hoc router, connecting to multiple devices at once.

However, USB tethering is the best option if you’re after a high-speed internet connection. Wi-Fi connection is usually capped at a certain megabit that many environmental factors influence. On the other hand, USB tethering can carry as much as your phone can realistically send.

If your carrier doesn’t offer the hotspot feature, you can opt for USB tethering when sharing your cellular internet. However, put your internet use in check when using USB tethering, as you’ll potentially exceed your monthly data cap.

Wi-Fi USB Dongle

Your phone’s cellular connection will probably not work if you’re on a trip. Here, the preceding solutions won’t work, and you’ll need to think out of the box to access the internet. With a Wi-Fi USB dongle, thinking out the box won’t be necessary anymore.

A Wi-Fi USB dongle serves as a mini router in the form of a pretty large USB stick. When you insert this USB stick into your computer, it automatically connects it to the internet, drawing power from your PC.

Wi-Fi dongles can easily fit in pockets, making them the best option if you travel frequently. In addition, since some Wi-Fi dongles also work as second USB drives, buying one is almost always justifiable.

Sharing a Neighbor’s Internet

If your neighbor has a router and pays for monthly internet, you can ask to share the internet with them. Wi-Fi routers can have a range of 150 feet, which is greater than the average distance between your neighbor and you.

Your neighbor may ask you to pay part of the monthly bill to share the connection in most cases. Since it’s usually cheaper for both of you to share it, you can agree to pay the half bill. Doing that will give you access to Wi-Fi without having to buy or manage a Wi-Fi router.

However, sharing with a neighbor isn’t recommended to get Wi-Fi internet. Sometimes, people don’t leave their routers on when leaving the house to save a bit on electricity, and you can’t tell when it’ll be unavailable. If you want unrestricted internet access, consider paying purchasing a router.

hotspot tech concept

Can You Get Wi-Fi without a Router and a Modem?

Historically, access to Wi-Fi internet is only possible if you have a router and a monthly subscription with your ISP. As technology advanced, it became possible to get Wi-Fi by sticking a portable USB-like modem to your computer.

If you don’t have a router and a modem, there is another way to get Wi-Fi. However, this last method requires a smartphone that supports the Wi-Fi hotspot feature. Enabling your phone’s hotspot acts as an ad hoc router that can connect multiple devices to the internet.

While this feature has grown popular over the years, it isn’t without its share of disadvantages. So before going through the cons of using a Wi-Fi hotspot, it’s important to learn how to use it first.

Here are the steps required to use your smartphone as a makeshift router without a modem or a Wi-Fi router:

Confirm That Your Carrier Hasn’t Removed the Feature From Your Device

The hotspot feature is unavailable on devices from specific carriers, as they don’t allow you to share your cellular internet. So before attempting to use your phone as a makeshift hotspot, it’s crucial to confirm that your carrier allows it.

On Android, swipe down your notifications panel to reveal the numerous controls. If your carrier hasn’t removed the feature, it should be available as part of the controls on the notifications panel. Likewise, the hotspot feature should be available on an iPhone’s settings app if the carrier supports it as well.

Enable Hotspot and Modify Your Settings

By default, your phone’s hotspot will have a generic name with no security protocols whatsoever. You can change the name to whatever you want, and the security is best left at WPA2 PSK. It’s important to note that the network name you entered is the SSID you’ll use to connect to the network.

After entering the name and selecting the WPA2 security protocol, you’ll be prompted to enter a password. Unlike with online accounts, you shouldn’t worry about making the password easy to remember, as you can access it anytime.

You can also select from 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands after setting the password. Unless you know what you’re doing, you should always stick with the 2.4GHz band. While 5GHz bands offer advantages over 2.4GHz bands, devices that support this protocol are few and far between.

Connect the Devices You Intend to Use With the WI-FI

Your makeshift Wi-Fi router is ready to use after modifying all the settings as demonstrated above. You can connect to as many as five devices simultaneously, with your cellular internet speed being the upper limit.

To connect to the hotspot, tap on the SSID that matches your hotspot name and enter the correct password. It should fetch the IP address and connect you to the internet, using the phone as the router. To work seamlessly, you must always enable cellular data connection to keep all devices connected.

While hotspot tethering is an easy and wireless way to share the internet between devices, it’s also a massive battery hog. Only a few actions on your smartphone drain as much battery as sharing your internet via hotspot.

Using hotspot also cuts deep into your monthly cellular data plan, incurring extra costs if you lack an unlimited plan. If you have many devices to connect to the internet, investing in a dedicated router might be more economical.