Many of our high-tech devices are now connected, but there is no unified standard, as the uses and needs are different. So you use the wifi in your box, or an open wifi with your laptop, and the mobile internet network (4G), with your smartphone or 4G router, if you have made this choice. All this works perfectly well, but there is a problem. What if I need a connection on my laptop, but I am not within range of a wifi network?

What is a 4G dongle?

A dongle, whether it is Wifi, 4G, or Bluetooth, is a kind of USB key that will provide a connection service. The 4G dongle is therefore a USB key, which will accept the insertion of a SIM card, in order to provide internet connectivity to a computer, via the mobile internet network. You can visit for more. It's very simple, you just need to buy a 4G dongle and subscribe to a package adapted to your data needs, to be able to use an internet connection wherever there is 4G (or 3G). Some operators even offer the loan of the device on the condition that you subscribe to the package with them. Usually, these loaned dongles are less efficient than the ones you can buy online. It is therefore up to you to see what your use will impose. If since the beginning of this text I've been talking about laptops, it's simply because the 4G dongle is most often used on this type of hardware, but this is not restrictive. We can thus imagine, that while waiting for a line to be opened, or if the connection needs are really small and you don't want to subscribe to a package at an ISP, you would use a key of this type on a fixed computer! Technically, there is nothing to stop it, even if the need is then quite different from the need for mobility.

Why a 4G Dongle?

Some laptops, designed for professional use, have a SIM card port, and thus allow you to use the mobile network when nothing else is available. But most of these products are expensive, and not very suitable for any other use than work (no big graphic card for example). Fortunately, there are solutions, and if you want to surf in the forest, or check your Facebook on your computer in the middle of a field, it's possible. The simplest solution that comes immediately to most of us, especially the most technophiles, or those who are more familiar with different modes of connectivity, is to share a connection from your phone. But, not everyone knows that it's possible to do this kind of thing with their smartphone, not all smartphones are compatible with this feature, and not all users have a flat rate that allows them to share data without counting the cost. That's why there are other solutions, and the 4G dongle is one of them.

How do you set it up and how do you use it?

Some models won't even require drivers, especially if you're running Windows 10. For others, you'll need to provide your operating system with the driver files needed for the unit to work properly. In most cases, it will be necessary to install software provided by the operator or by the dongle manufacturer. And you will see that the reason is quite simple. Indeed, for obvious security reasons, SIM cards are protected by what is called a PIN code. Normally you all need to know what this is, it's the 4-digit code that you have to type in when you switch on your phone. But a 4G dongle doesn't have a keypad to enter this code... So the software will simply provide a way to enter the pin code attached to the SIM card that you use in your dongle to unlock it. Once installed therefore, drivers and software loaded on the PC, the use is particularly simple and accessible to everyone. You insert the dongle, the software opens, you enter the pin code of the SIM card and that's it, internet access is functional. This kind of device is particularly useful in certain professional fields where mobility is the norm, but is also interesting when individuals are on the move. For example, I have some acquaintances who like to go on camping holidays and who, some time before departure, subscribe to this kind of package, in order to be autonomous at their holiday destination. This is one of the advantages of this kind of product, so you are not dependent on the connection modes provided in the place where you are. Nowadays, open wifi networks can be found almost everywhere, but they have a bad reputation because they are poorly protected and often targeted by hackers looking for personal data. But there are also some drawbacks with this type of system. And the one that comes first is the very design of these dongles. They provide a connection to one and only one device. So it's not at all a product that's suitable for home use. You could argue that it's enough to create a wifi hotspot from the computer that uses the dongle, but honestly, how many users know how to do that? So the dongle is perfect if only one device needs to access the internet at the same time, but if several computers need to use the connection at the same time, then you'll have to opt for another technique, such as a portable 4G router. It should also be noted, that more and more of these devices can be connected to a tablet, via an OTG (On the Go) adapter, which is a female USB cable (where the dongle is inserted) to micro USB (connected to the tablet).