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Connecting: how and when

Your phone can connect to the Internet and to other devices in different ways. Each way has advantages, depending on where you are and what you want to do.

To view and configure the settings for different connections, in the App list, tap Settings Settings icon.

Cellular connectivity

Your phone uses a cellular connection when you make and receive phone calls. It also uses it when you text someone. The settings your phone uses for cellular connectivity are found in Cellular settings and can vary by mobile operator.

Data connectivity

When you do things like browse the web, send email, or use apps that connect to the Internet, your phone sends and receives data using a Wi-Fi or cellular data connection. When your phone is connected to both of them at the same time, it will try to use the Wi-Fi connection first.

Wi-Fi connectivity

Chances are pretty good that you're already familiar with Wi-Fi networks. If you've taken a laptop to a local coffee shop and gone online, you've used Wi-Fi. Likewise, you can also use your Windows Phone to connect to a Wi-Fi network. A Wi-Fi connection is usually faster than a cellular data connection and can help reduce your cellular data usage, which is good if you don't have an unlimited data plan.

By default, your phone's Wi-Fi connectivity is turned on and ready to connect to a Wi-Fi network. When your phone is within range of a network, a notification will periodically appear at the top of your screen to let you know that a network is available in your area. You can tap the notification, and then choose the network that you want to connect to. (If you don't want to see these notifications, you can turn them off in Settings Settings icon > Wi-Fi > Advanced.) When a Wi-Fi network that you've previously connected to is in range, your phone will automatically connect to it. Depending on your mobile operator, your phone might automatically connect to a Wi-Fi hotspot that's provided by your mobile operator when the hotspot is in range. If it does, and you don't want it to, you can change this setting too in Settings Settings icon > Wi-Fi > Advanced.

Many Wi-Fi networks are secured and require you to enter a password before you can connect to the network. Your phone can connect to open networks that don't require a password, or to secured networks that use any of these security protocols: WPA2, WPA, and WEP.

For more info about connecting to a Wi-Fi network, see Connect to a Wi-Fi network.

Cellular data connectivity

Charges for your cellular data connection depend on the data plan you have with your mobile operator. Your mobile operator might charge you extra for data usage over a certain limit or when roaming. Roaming occurs when your phone connects to a cellular network other than the one provided by your mobile operator, and uses that connection to send and receive data. By default, your phone is configured to turn off your cellular data connection when roaming to help try to avoid additional charges. See What's data roaming? for more info.

Check with your mobile operator to determine what cellular connectivity services you have with your current phone plan. Your cellular connection options also depend on your phone model and your locale, because different locales often have different cellular infrastructure.

In general, you'll be able to get data connectivity almost anywhere you can get a cellular connection. (This also depends on whether cellular data connectivity is available where you are.) This is great for when you're out and about and want to search the web to find out where the nearest restaurants or theaters are.

The settings your phone uses for cellular data connectivity are found in Cellular settings and can vary by mobile operator. These settings can help you control your cellular connection and stay connected when traveling.

And speaking of traveling, if you're on a plane and need to turn off your cellular connection and all other connections on your phone at once, you can turn on Airplane mode. It turns off all connectivity, but you can turn Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and NFC sharing back on separately while your phone's in Airplane mode.

Bluetooth connectivity

Although you can't use Bluetooth to connect to the Internet, you can use it to pair your phone with a Bluetooth accessory, such as a car kit or a headset for hands-free phone calls. You can also pair your phone with other phones and devices that have Bluetooth, so you can share things like documents, contacts, music, pictures, and more. By default, Bluetooth is turned off on your Windows Phone until you pair it for the first time.

NFC connectivity

If your phone has an NFC (Near Field Communication) chip in it, you can tap your phone to another device that's NFC-capable to pair with it. After it's paired, you can share photos, links to websites, contacts, and more using Tap + Send.

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