Ask LH: Can I Just Use My Phone For Internet Access?

Ask LH: Can I Just Use My Phone For Internet Access?

Hey Lifehacker, I am a single user of both phone and internet. I am thinking it makes sense for me to get rid of my landline and broadband internet and perhaps just buy a smartphone that does everything. I use the Internet mostly for emails, web browsing, Skype, YouTube, Facebook and share trading activities. I also have a smart TV that I thought might be useful to hook up to internet. What’s the best way for me to go about this? Thanks, Overwhelmed

Viewing picture from Shutterstock

Dear Overwhelmed,

We can understand the temptation here — if your mobile phone already has a good 4G connection, then why pay for a separate service for a home internet connection? Unfortunately, for the scenario you describe, it’s almost certainly not going to be economically viable.

As we’ve noted in a couple of recent Ask Lifehacker queries, the problem with trying to use mobile broadband as your sole internet connection is that the data allowances are much less generous. It’s almost impossible to get more than 15GB a month without spending a fortune — far more than paying for a home internet connection.

What really makes this an unlikely scenario is wanting to watch streaming shows on your smart TV. Doing that will require a considerable amount of data — you can easily go through 1GB or more watching a movie. Add in some extra YouTube watching and Skype chats and you’re likely to exceed your data allowance all the time.

Mobile broadband is a really handy option, but it doesn’t yet offer a cost/volume ratio that’s remotely competitive with having an ADSL line. That might change in the distant future, but for now, in the circumstances you describe, a naked ADSL deal is going to serve you much better — and cost you less — than just trying to rely on your phone.

Cheers Lifehacker

Got your own question you want to put to Lifehacker? Send it using our [contact text=”contact form”].


  • When I am away from home at months at a time I have a second phone with optus $2 a day 4G. I get 500MB for the $2 and if I exceed 500MB another $2 is extracted from my pre-paid amount and automatically upgraded to 1GB. So that is either $60 a month for 15GB or $120 a month for 30GB which is the cheapest I have found for any mobile broadband deal (also unlimited calls and mms/sms).

  • I wouldn’t want to to risk doing share trading on a mobile phone connection that’s for sure but the other limitations of a 3g/4g connection just don’t make it a viable option for your intended uses.

  • Don’t do it!!! Get rid of land line and get wireless. I used my phone when I first got the xbone and initial update was 5g. Loaded Forza, another large portion of data. I bought extra data packs as my monthly allowance was 8g, but still got a bill that had a comma in it! Don’t rely on the phone for your internet/data!!!!

  • If you kull the tv and gaming from the equation the idea does become a lot more viable. There’s a large chunk of the market that doesn’t even touch their monthly download limit because, lets face it, if you’re not streaming video, gaming or torrenting, you don’t need much at all. I have quite a few friends & family that have forgone the PC with ADSL connection and replaced it with a 3g/4g ipad and couldn’t be happier. For those people, being able to connect wherever they want, without any contracts, is higher priority than having a big data pipe at home.

  • my modem has a 3g 4G usb port that allows me to plug in my phone or a dongle longle. Im seriously thinking about ditching my adsl. I sync at 18mb/s I live 750 meters max to the exchange, and my real speed is 2.1mb/s on a really good day off a really good server. my local mobile tower just got upgraded to 4G and I get 2-3 bars on my note 3. and speed test says I get 40mb/sec both up and download speeds!! thats fucking bad ass! so im seriously considering this as well. if I can find a 50gb a month 4g plan but its a little to expensive atm will wait a little bit longer

Show more comments

Comments are closed.

Log in to comment on this story!