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How to get online using mobile technology

A woman sitting down and checking her mobile phone

Mobile technology gives us the power to do almost all of the things you normally do online, but with the flexibility of doing it almost anywhere. And using mobile technology to get online might be easier than you think.

WebWise Team | 10th October 2012

There are hundreds of reasons why you might want to use mobile technology to get online and the chances are you may even have a device that lets you do so.

To celebrate Get Online Week (15th - 21st October) we've created six films to help you make the most of being online using your mobile phone or tablet device.

How can you get the mobile web and get online?

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For information on how to do this, please visit the BBC WebWise guide to downloading Flash

Using your mobile to get online

Although it is a very quick and easy thing to do, going online on your mobile phone can get complicated when you are faced with the different options given to you on your device and by your service provider.

It’s important to feel confident and comfortable about mobile internet so that you don’t end up finding yourself with an unexpectedly large bill at the end of the month.

The costs that you run up will vary depending on whether you are using the mobile web with a 3G or Wi-Fi connection. Once you understand the difference you'll be in a better position to manage how much you spend.

What's the difference between 3G and Wi-Fi connections?
All smartphones come with 3G connectivity. Put very simply, 3G is your phone's own internet connection. It is relatively fast and robust enough to download media as well as web pages.
Another option is to use Wi-Fi, which works the same way that a wireless connection works in your home or office. It allows you to connect to the internet without having to use wires or cables, using invisible radio waves instead.
When your mobile connectivity is switched to Wi-Fi mode you are asking the device to find an outside source to provide an internet connection, instead of using the phone’s 3G connectivity.
When using the mobile web with a Wi-Fi connection the service is usually free of charge (if you have to pay this will be made clear before you can use it).
When you are using a 3G connection your use of the mobile web will be limited to an amount that you've agreed with your provider, and if you exceed the limit you'll be charged extra. So it's best to use Wi-Fi where you can.

How to switch on online services on your phone

In the settings menu you can select Wi-Fi if you are in an area where a Wi-Fi signal is strong, or you can choose to turn it off. By de-selecting Wi-Fi, you are telling the device to use it's own 3G internet connection.

It is common for Wi-Fi access to be guarded by a password. When you select Wi-Fi your smartphone will be shown a series of "hotspots" that it has detected. Each will have a padlock icon beside them but some will be unlocked while others are locked.

The unlocked options are public and can be connected to without having to enter a password. The locked ones will require a password.

In some cases a connection may appear unlocked but then prompt you to log on using a paid for service. You will usually be asked for your bank details in order to set up an account. This can be an expensive way to access mobile web, but if you are in a place with a poor signal (such as on a long train journey) it can be the only reliable option.

3G is generally slower than a strong Wi-Fi connection, but it is very handy to have the internet wherever and whenever you need to get online.

Whether you have selected to use 3G or Wi-Fi, you can browse the internet by tapping on the internet browser icon on your tablet’s home screen.


The WebWise 'W'

WebWise Team

WebWise was first launched in 1998 and since then has helped people of all ages to learn about and love the internet.