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Connecting: how and when

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

You can select and configure settings for the various connectivity methods by going to Settings on your phone: on Start, flick left to the App list, and then tap SettingsSettings icon.

Voice connectivity

When you make a phone call, your phone is using your cellular connection. To learn a little more about what you can do, see Make and receive phone calls.

Data connectivity

When you do things like browse the web and send email, your phone sends and receives data using a Wi-Fi connection, cellular data connection, or phone-to-computer connection.

Your phone will typically choose a Wi-Fi connection over a cellular data connection when they're both available. And when your phone's connected to your computer using a USB cable and your computer is connected to a network, your phone will choose your computer's network connection over the other connections.

Wi-Fi connectivity

Chances are pretty good that you're already familiar with Wi-Fi networks. If you've taken a laptop to your local coffee shop and gone online, you've used Wi-Fi. You can also use your Windows Phone to connect to a Wi-Fi network. When you're in range of an available Wi-Fi network, this is generally faster and less expensive than using your phone's cellular data connection.

By default, your phone's Wi-Fi connectivity is turned on and always ready to connect to a Wi-Fi network. Whenever your phone finds a network, a notification will periodically appear to let you know that a network is available in your area. You can then tap the notification and pick the network that you want to connect to. (If you don't want to see these notifications, you can turn them off in your phone's Wi-Fi settings.) Your phone will automatically connect to a network that you have previously connected to when it's in range.

If you want to know how to configure your phone's Wi-Fi connectivity, see Connect to a Wi-Fi network.

Finally, 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 protected networks that use these security protocols: WPA, WPA2, and WEP.

Cellular data connectivity

Charges for connectivity over your mobile operator's network depend on your service agreement. Your mobile operator might charge you extra for data usage and especially 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 exchange data. By default, your phone is configured to turn off your cellular data connection when roaming to avoid incurring additional charges. See What's data roaming? for more information.

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.) For example, you might be out and about and you want to know where the nearest restaurants are, so you search the web to find out.

You can configure global cellular settings for your phone, including which network you're currently connected to. For more info, see Cellular settings. This helps you stay connected when you're traveling internationally. You can also set your phone to forward calls. To learn more, see Make and receive phone calls.

And if you're on a plane and you need to turn your phone off, you can use Airplane mode to turn off your cellular connectivity. It turns off all connectivity on your phone, but you can choose to turn Wi-Fi, FM radio, and Bluetooth connectivity back on individually while your phone's in Airplane mode. See What's Airplane mode? for more information.

Your mobile operator can tell you what other configuration settings for cellular connectivity you can access with your current phone plan. Your options for cellular connectivity also depend on your locale, because different locales often have different infrastructure.

Bluetooth connectivity

Finally, there's 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.

By default, Bluetooth is turned off on your Windows Phone until you pair it for the first time. To learn how to turn Bluetooth on, see Pair my phone with a Bluetooth accessory.

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