Connecting to a mobile network


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Connecting to a mobile network

Checking the map on a mobile device whilst out and about

What's coming up

While mobile data and Wi-Fi networks both let you connect to the internet, there are some important differences.

In this activity, you'll learn about these differences and how they can affect the way you use the internet.

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Devices that use mobile data

Several kinds of devices can use mobile data, including tablets and computers, but the most common way to connect to a mobile data network is with a mobile phone.

Mobile phones come in all sizes these days
Mobile data plans come in small, medium, large and extra large sizes

Ready to connect!

When you buy a new mobile phone, it comes ready to connect to the internet.

Your mobile phone provider will offer you a mobile data plan. When you purchase a plan, your phone will automatically connect to the internet and be ready to use data.

No password

Unlike Wi-Fi, you don't need to put a password into a mobile phone to connect it to mobile data for the first time. This is because each mobile phone comes with a small microchip, called a SIM card.

SIM stands for Subscriber Identify Module, but we always just call it a SIM card.

SIM cards identify your mobile phone as you, and allow you to connect to the mobile network
Any device that has a SIM card can connect to the mobile network

Each SIM card has a unique phone number (your mobile phone number) that lets your phone use your mobile provider's voice and data network.

You will be able to use mobile data on your phone as long as:

  • Your phone is switched on.
  • Your phone has reception for your provider's network.
  • Your mobile phone plan payments are up to date.

Old phone, new provider

The SIM card inside a mobile phone can be removed and replaced with a new SIM card from a different provider.

This means if you want to use a new provider, you can keep your current mobile phone. Just remove the old SIM and put in the new SIM from the new provider. The phone will automatically connect to the new provider's mobile data network.

You can move between carriers by just changing the SIM card in your phone. You can even keep the same number.
An icon of a padlock

eSafety Tip

If you like, you can transfer the phone number from the original SIM card to the new SIM card, just ask your provider for help with this. They can also help you swap the SIM cards.


This is the end of the Connecting to a mobile network activity. You've learned that connecting to mobile data is easy, because it's all automatic, but you do need to have a mobile phone plan, including a data plan, with a mobile data provider.

Next, you'll learn What sorts of devices can use mobile networks?

Inserting a new SIM card into a mobile phone can be fiddly - you can always ask the supplier to help you do this.