Mobile broadband (4G): FAQ

Applies to

Surface 3 (4G LTE).

Applies to

Surface 2 (4G).

Applies to

Surface 3 (4G LTE).

Applies to

Surface 2 (4G).

Operating system:

Here are answers to frequently asked questions about Surface 3 with mobile broadband.


What are the best ways to manage my data usage?

Talk to your mobile broadband operator about the right data plan for you. One size doesn’t fit all. It really depends on how you are using your device, how often, and where. Here are some things to consider:

  • Connect to a Wi-Fi network whenever available. Wi-Fi is typically faster and less expensive than a mobile broadband connection.
  • Keep track of your estimated data usage, either through an app from your operator or through Windows network settings.
  • Ensure that your mobile broadband network connection is set to use metering. This can help you reduce the amount of data you use by doing things like limiting the scope of updates, pausing downloads, not updating Start menu tiles, and restricting other things that send and receive data.
  • Limit the amount of syncing you do over a metered connection. For example, in your settings for OneDrive, turn off syncing over metered connections. Enable syncing only when you need to upload or download to OneDrive.
  • Limit your data-intensive activities. These include using apps that stream data to your Surface and sharing your connection—for example, playing videos, games, or music, or using your Surface as a mobile hotspot.
  • Change your email download settings to manual instead of automatic.

For more info, see Manage your mobile broadband data usage.

Mobile operator apps

Many mobile operators provide an app you can use to view your account information, data usage, and more.

On Surface 3 (4G LTE) your mobile operator’s app may be installed automatically during setup. Or, you can look for an app on your mobile operator’s website or in the Windows Store.

To see whether you have an app from your mobile operator installed:

Step 1: Go to Start Windows logo > Settings > Network & Internet > Cellular.
Step 2: Under Cellular, select the network you want to use. If you see View My Account, you have an app from your mobile operator installed.

For more info about managing data, see Manage your mobile broadband data usage.

How are Surface models with mobile broadband different from other Surface models?

Both Surface 2 (4G) and Surface 3 (4G LTE) include a SIM card tray, a cellular modem, and associated antennas to connect to mobile carrier networks.

What are the main differences between the Surface devices with mobile broadband?

Surface 2 (4G)

  • Surface 2 (4G) accepts a micro-SIM card.
  • In North America, Surface 2 (AT&T 4G LTE) is unlocked and ready to use on AT&T’s cellular network, and it has the AT&T AllAccess app pre-installed.
  • Outside of North America, Surface 2 (4G) works on a wide variety of networks, and an app may be available from your mobile operator.
  • Surface 2 (4G) is otherwise just like Surface 2. For example, it runs Windows RT. For more info, see Surface 2 specifications.

Surface 3 (4G LTE)

  • Surface 3 (4G LTE) accepts a Nano SIM card.
  • For more info, see Set up your Surface 2 (4G) or Surface 3 (4G LTE).
  • On Surface 3 (4G LTE), your mobile operator’s app may be installed automatically during setup. Or, you can look for an app on your mobile operator’s website or in the Windows Store.
  • Surface 3 (4G LTE) is otherwise just like Surface 3. For more info, see Surface 3 specifications.

I’m going to travel to a different country. Do I need to change any settings on my Surface?

Check with your mobile broadband operator to learn about international data plan options. You may also be able to purchase a prepaid SIM card or mobile broadband data plan from a local operator upon arrival in the country you’re traveling to.

If you do neither of these, you may want to change some settings on your Surface to avoid possible data charges.

Go to Start Windows logo > Settings > Network & Internet > Cellular, and select the network you want to use. If Allow roaming is checked, clear it. Then select Connect.

You can also simply turn off mobile broadband and use only a Wi-Fi connection when it is available.

I bought this Surface model to use mobile broadband. Why do I have to use Wi-Fi to set things up?

Wi-Fi is recommended, but not required. Wi-Fi is often faster, more stable, and less expensive than mobile broadband.

To connect to a mobile broadband network when you set up your Surface, you may need to enter the access point name (APN), user name, and password. Keep in mind that mobile broadband won’t work until your SIM card has been activated.

My SIM card is inserted, but I still can’t connect to the network. What’s wrong?

It could be one or more of the following:

  • You need to install the latest Surface and Windows updates.
  • You may not have cellular coverage.
  • You may not have an active data plan.

For info about how to solve these problems, see Can’t connect to mobile broadband?

I lost my SIM card. How do I get a replacement?

Contact your mobile operator about replacing your SIM card.

I need a replacement SIM card tray. How can I get one?

If the SIM card tray on your Surface is lost, damaged, or stuck, contact us.

Can I use the USB charger of my phone to charge my Surface?

Surface 3 charges best with the included power supply. If you use a different power supply like the one for your phone, your Surface 3 will charge slowly and might charge only when it is turned off.

For more info, see Surface battery and power.

Does mobile broadband affect the battery life of my Surface?

Yes. Connecting to mobile broadband uses the antennas in Surface models with mobile broadband, and draws power from the battery. For tips on making your battery charge last longer, see Surface battery and power.


Here are answers to frequently asked questions about Surface 2 with mobile broadband.


What are the best ways to manage my data usage?

Talk to your mobile broadband operator about the right data plan for you. One size doesn’t fit all. It really depends on how you are using your device, how often, and where. Here are some things to consider:

  • Connect to a Wi-Fi network whenever available. Wi-Fi is typically faster and less expensive than a mobile broadband connection.
  • Keep track of your estimated data usage, either through an app from your operator or through Windows network settings.
  • Ensure that your mobile broadband network connection is set to use metering. This can help you reduce the amount of data you use by doing things like limiting the scope of updates, pausing downloads, not updating Start menu tiles, and restricting other things that send and receive data.
  • Limit the amount of syncing you do over a metered connection. For example, in your settings for OneDrive, turn off syncing over metered connections. Enable syncing only when you need to upload or download to OneDrive.
  • Limit your data-intensive activities. These include using apps that stream data to your Surface and sharing your connection—for example, playing videos, games, or music, or using your Surface as a mobile hotspot.
  • Change your email download settings to manual instead of automatic.

For more info, see Manage your mobile broadband data usage.

Mobile operator apps

Many mobile operators provide an app you can use to view your account information, data usage, and more. Surface 2 (AT&T 4G LTE) includes the AT&T AllAccess app. If this app isn’t already installed on your device, you can install it from the Windows Store.

To see whether you have an app from your mobile operator installed:

Step 1: Swipe in from the right edge of the screen, and tap Settings.
(If you're using a mouse, point to the upper-right corner of the screen, move the mouse pointer down, and click Settings.)
Step 2: Select wireless network Wireless network icon.
Step 3: Select your mobile operator. If you see something like View My Account, you have an app from your mobile operator installed.

For more info about managing data, see Manage your mobile broadband data usage.

How are Surface models with mobile broadband different from other Surface models?

Both Surface 2 (4G) and Surface 3 (4G LTE) include a SIM card tray, a cellular modem, and associated antennas to connect to mobile carrier networks.

What are the main differences between the Surface devices with mobile broadband?

Surface 2 (4G)

  • Surface 2 (4G) accepts a micro-SIM card.
  • In North America, Surface 2 (AT&T 4G LTE) is unlocked and ready to use on AT&T’s cellular network, and it has the AT&T AllAccess app pre-installed.
  • Outside of North America, Surface 2 (4G) works on a wide variety of networks, and an app may be available from your mobile operator.
  • Surface 2 (4G) is otherwise just like Surface 2. For more info, see Surface 2 specifications.

Surface 3 (4G LTE)

  • Surface 3 (4G LTE) accepts a Nano SIM card.
  • For more info, see Set up your Surface 2 (4G) or Surface 3 (4G LTE).
  • On Surface 3 (4G LTE), your mobile operator’s app may be installed automatically during setup. Or, you can look for an app on your mobile operator’s website or in Windows Store.
  • Surface 3 (4G LTE) is otherwise just like Surface 3. For more info, see Surface 3 specifications.

I’m going to travel to a different country. Do I need to change any settings on my Surface?

Check with your mobile broadband operator to learn about international data plan options. You may also be able to purchase a prepaid SIM card or mobile broadband data plan from a local operator upon arrival in the country you’re traveling to.

If you do neither of these, you may want to change some settings on your Surface to avoid possible data charges.

Swipe in from the right edge of the screen, and select Settings. Select wireless network Wireless network icon, and under Mobile broadband, select the network you want to use. If Roam automatically is checked, clear it. Then select Connect.

You can also simply turn off mobile broadband and use only a Wi-Fi connection when it is available.

I bought this Surface model to use mobile broadband. Why do I have to use Wi-Fi to set things up?

Wi-Fi is recommended, but not required. Wi-Fi is often faster, more stable, and less expensive than mobile broadband.

To connect to a mobile broadband network when you set up your Surface, you may need to enter the access point name (APN), user name, and password. Keep in mind that mobile broadband won’t work until your SIM card has been activated.

My SIM card is inserted, but I still can’t connect to the network. What’s wrong?

It could be one or more of the following:

  • You need to install the latest Surface and Windows updates.
  • You may not have cellular coverage.
  • You may not have an active data plan.

For info about how to solve these problems, see Can’t connect to mobile broadband?

I lost my SIM card. How do I get a replacement?

Contact your mobile operator about replacing your SIM card.

I need a replacement SIM card tray. How can I get one?

If the SIM card tray on your Surface is lost, damaged, or stuck, contact us.

Can I use the USB charger of my phone to charge my Surface?

Surface 2 can be charged only with the power supply included with Surface.

For more info, see Surface battery and power.

Does mobile broadband affect the battery life of my Surface?

Yes. Connecting to mobile broadband uses the antennas in Surface models with mobile broadband, and draws power from the battery. For tips on making your battery charge last longer, see Surface battery and power.


Here are answers to frequently asked questions about Surface 2 or Surface 3 with mobile broadband.


What are the best ways to manage my data usage?

Talk to your mobile broadband operator about the right data plan for you. One size doesn’t fit all. It really depends on how you are using your device, how often, and where. Here are some things to consider:

  • Connect to a Wi-Fi network whenever available. Wi-Fi is typically faster and less expensive than a mobile broadband connection.
  • Keep track of your estimated data usage, either through an app from your operator or through Windows network settings.
  • Ensure that your mobile broadband network connection is set to use metering. This can help you reduce the amount of data you use by doing things like limiting the scope of updates, pausing downloads, not updating Start screen tiles, and restricting other things that send and receive data.
  • Limit the amount of syncing you do over a metered connection. For example, in your settings for OneDrive, turn off syncing over metered connections. Enable syncing only when you need to upload or download to OneDrive.
  • Limit your data-intensive activities. These include using apps that stream data to your Surface and sharing your connection—for example, playing videos, games, or music, or using your Surface as a mobile hotspot.
  • Change your email download settings to manual instead of automatic.

For more info, see Manage your mobile broadband data usage.

Mobile operator apps

Many mobile operators provide an app you can use to view your account information, data usage, and more.

  • Surface 2 (AT&T 4G LTE) includes the AT&T AllAccess app. If this app isn’t already installed on your device, you can install it from the Windows Store.
  • On Surface 3 (4G LTE) your mobile operator’s app may be installed automatically during setup. Or, you can look for an app on your mobile operator’s website or in the Windows Store.
  • To see whether you have an app from your mobile operator installed:

    Step 1: Swipe in from the right edge of the screen, and tap Settings.
    (If you're using a mouse, point to the upper-right corner of the screen, move the mouse pointer down, and click Settings.)
    Step 2: Tap or click wireless network Wireless network icon.
    Step 3: Tap or click your mobile operator. If you see something like View My Account, you have an app from your mobile operator installed.

    For more info about managing data, see Manage your mobile broadband data usage.

How are Surface models with mobile broadband different from other Surface models?

Both Surface 2 (4G) and Surface 3 (4G LTE) include a SIM card tray, a cellular modem, and associated antennas to connect to mobile carrier networks.

What are the main differences between the Surface devices with mobile broadband?

Surface 2 (4G)

  • Surface 2 (4G) accepts a micro-SIM card.
  • In North America, Surface 2 (AT&T 4G LTE) is unlocked and ready to use on AT&T’s cellular network, and it has the AT&T AllAccess app pre-installed.
  • Outside of North America, Surface 2 (4G) works on a wide variety of networks, and an app may be available from your mobile operator.
  • Surface 2 (4G) is otherwise just like Surface 2. For more info, see Surface 2 specifications.

Surface 3 (4G LTE)

  • Surface 3 (4G LTE) accepts a Nano SIM card.
  • For more info, see Set up your Surface 2 (4G) or Surface 3 (4G LTE).
  • On Surface 3 (4G LTE), your mobile operator’s app may be installed automatically during setup. Or, you can look for an app on your mobile operator’s website or in Windows Store.
  • Surface 3 (4G LTE) is otherwise just like Surface 3. For more info, see Surface 3 specifications.

I’m going to travel to a different country. Do I need to change any settings on my Surface?

Check with your mobile broadband operator to learn about international data plan options. You may also be able to purchase a prepaid SIM card or mobile broadband data plan from a local operator upon arrival in the country you’re traveling to.

If you do neither of these, you may want to change some settings on your Surface to avoid possible data charges.

Swipe in from the right edge of the screen, and tap or click Settings. Tap or click the wireless network icon Wireless network icon, and under Mobile broadband, tap or click the network you want to use. If Roam automatically is checked, clear it. Then tap or click Connect.

You can also simply turn off mobile broadband and use only a Wi-Fi connection when it is available.

I bought this Surface model to use mobile broadband. Why do I have to use Wi-Fi to set things up?

Wi-Fi is recommended, but not required. Wi-Fi is often faster, more stable, and less expensive than mobile broadband.

To connect to a mobile broadband network when you set up your Surface, you may need to enter the access point name (APN), user name, and password. Keep in mind that mobile broadband won’t work until your SIM card has been activated.

My SIM card is inserted, but I still can’t connect to the network. What’s wrong?

It could be one or more of the following:

  • You need to install the latest Surface and Windows updates.
  • You may not have cellular coverage.
  • You may not have an active data plan.

For info about how to solve these problems, see Can’t connect to mobile broadband?

I lost my SIM card. How do I get a replacement?

Contact your mobile operator about replacing your SIM card.

I need a replacement SIM card tray. How can I get one?

If the SIM card tray on your Surface is lost, damaged, or stuck, contact us.

Can I use the USB charger of my phone to charge my Surface?

Surface 2 can be charged only with the power supply included with Surface.

Surface 3 charges best with the included power supply. If you use a different power supply like the one for your phone, your Surface 3 will charge slowly and might charge only when it is turned off.

For more info, see Surface battery and power.

Does mobile broadband affect the battery life of my Surface?

Yes. Connecting to mobile broadband uses the antennas in Surface models with mobile broadband, and draws power from the battery. For tips on making your battery charge last longer, see Surface battery and power.


Here are answers to frequently asked questions about Surface 2 or Surface 3 with mobile broadband.


What are the best ways to manage my data usage?

Talk to your mobile broadband operator about the right data plan for you. One size doesn’t fit all. It really depends on how you are using your device, how often, and where. Here are some things to consider:

  • Connect to a Wi-Fi network whenever available. Wi-Fi is typically faster and less expensive than a mobile broadband connection.
  • Keep track of your estimated data usage, either through an app from your operator or through Windows network settings.
  • Ensure that your mobile broadband network connection is set to use metering. This can help you reduce the amount of data you use by doing things like limiting the scope of updates, pausing downloads, not updating Start screen tiles, and restricting other things that send and receive data.
  • Limit the amount of syncing you do over a metered connection. For example, in your settings for OneDrive, turn off syncing over metered connections. Enable syncing only when you need to upload or download to OneDrive.
  • Limit your data-intensive activities. These include using apps that stream data to your Surface and sharing your connection—for example, playing videos, games, or music, or using your Surface as a mobile hotspot.
  • Change your email download settings to manual instead of automatic.

For more info, see Manage your mobile broadband data usage.

Mobile operator apps

Many mobile operators provide an app you can use to view your account information, data usage, and more.

  • Surface 2 (AT&T 4G LTE) includes the AT&T AllAccess app. If this app isn’t already installed on your device, you can install it from the Windows Store.
  • On Surface 3 (4G LTE) your mobile operator’s app may be installed automatically during setup. Or, you can look for an app on your mobile operator’s website or in the Windows Store.
  • To see whether you have an app from your mobile operator installed:

    Step 1: Swipe in from the right edge of the screen, and tap Settings.
    (If you're using a mouse, point to the upper-right corner of the screen, move the mouse pointer down, and click Settings.)
    Step 2: Tap or click wireless network Wireless network icon.
    Step 3: Tap or click your mobile operator. If you see something like View My Account, you have an app from your mobile operator installed.

    For more info about managing data, see Manage your mobile broadband data usage.

How are Surface models with mobile broadband different from other Surface models?

Both Surface 2 (4G) and Surface 3 (4G LTE) include a SIM card tray, a cellular modem, and associated antennas to connect to mobile carrier networks.

What are the main differences between the Surface devices with mobile broadband?

Surface 2 (4G)

  • Surface 2 (4G) accepts a micro-SIM card.
  • In North America, Surface 2 (AT&T 4G LTE) is unlocked and ready to use on AT&T’s cellular network, and it has the AT&T AllAccess app pre-installed.
  • Outside of North America, Surface 2 (4G) works on a wide variety of networks, and an app may be available from your mobile operator.
  • Surface 2 (4G) is otherwise just like Surface 2. For more info, see Surface 2 specifications.

Surface 3 (4G LTE)

  • Surface 3 (4G LTE) accepts a Nano SIM card.
  • For more info, see Set up your Surface 2 (4G) or Surface 3 (4G LTE).
  • On Surface 3 (4G LTE), your mobile operator’s app may be installed automatically during setup. Or, you can look for an app on your mobile operator’s website or in Windows Store.
  • Surface 3 (4G LTE) is otherwise just like Surface 3. For more info, see Surface 3 specifications.

I’m going to travel to a different country. Do I need to change any settings on my Surface?

Check with your mobile broadband operator to learn about international data plan options. You may also be able to purchase a prepaid SIM card or mobile broadband data plan from a local operator upon arrival in the country you’re traveling to.

If you do neither of these, you may want to change some settings on your Surface to avoid possible data charges.

Swipe in from the right edge of the screen, and tap or click Settings. Tap or click the wireless network icon Wireless network icon, and under Mobile broadband, tap or click the network you want to use. If Roam automatically is checked, clear it. Then tap or click Connect.

You can also simply turn off mobile broadband and use only a Wi-Fi connection when it is available.

I bought this Surface model to use mobile broadband. Why do I have to use Wi-Fi to set things up?

Wi-Fi is recommended, but not required. Wi-Fi is often faster, more stable, and less expensive than mobile broadband.

To connect to a mobile broadband network when you set up your Surface, you may need to enter the access point name (APN), user name, and password. Keep in mind that mobile broadband won’t work until your SIM card has been activated.

My SIM card is inserted, but I still can’t connect to the network. What’s wrong?

It could be one or more of the following:

  • You need to install the latest Surface and Windows updates.
  • You may not have cellular coverage.
  • You may not have an active data plan.

For info about how to solve these problems, see Can’t connect to mobile broadband?

I lost my SIM card. How do I get a replacement?

Contact your mobile operator about replacing your SIM card.

I need a replacement SIM card tray. How can I get one?

If the SIM card tray on your Surface is lost, damaged, or stuck, contact us.

Can I use the USB charger of my phone to charge my Surface?

Surface 2 can be charged only with the power supply included with Surface.

Surface 3 charges best with the included power supply. If you use a different power supply like the one for your phone, your Surface 3 will charge slowly and might charge only when it is turned off.

For more info, see Surface battery and power.

Does mobile broadband affect the battery life of my Surface?

Yes. Connecting to mobile broadband uses the antennas in Surface models with mobile broadband, and draws power from the battery. For tips on making your battery charge last longer, see Surface battery and power.


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