Extend your LTE hotspot with a Wi-Fi to Ethernet adapter

How to connect Ethernet based machines to a portable LTE hotspot or Wi-Fi network.

Bridge connections.
Credit: Daniel Schwen (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Wi-Fi to Ethernet adapters

Wi-Fi to Ethernet adapters are devices that bridge Ethernet and Wi-Fi networks. Initially, these adapters were popular in the console gaming community as a way of connecting consoles with Ethernet ports to home W-Fi networks and the Internet.

Mobile hotspots

So how can users of portable mobile LTE or WiMAX hotspots benefit from using a Wi-Fi to Ethernet adapter? Easy -- instead of using an adapter to connect a single machine (or game console) to a hotspot, connect it to an Ethernet switch instead. This in turn gives each machine on a home Ethernet network an Internet connection.

There are benefits to the arrangement. Hardware costs savings is one: Wi-Fi cards or adaptors don't need to be purchased for machines using Ethernet as the sole method of network connectivity. Setup time is also reduced because the Wi-Fi to Ethernet adaptor is the only device that needs initial setup. This is because most computers using Ethernet connect using the DHCP protocol, which assigns a network address, and consequently will likely see little difference connecting to the Internet through a bridged hotspot connection.

Finally, most portable hotspot devices permit a limited number of Wi-Fi connections at the same time. Therefore, using a Wi-Fi to Ethernet adapter to connect multiple Ethernet devices through one Wi-Fi connection "frees up" the number of available hotspot connections for tablets and mobiles.

The following image shows a "real world" working example of two Ethernet cables connected to a switch, in turn connected to a mobile hotspot via a Wi-Fi to Ethernet adapter. The adapter is at bottom-left, with the hotspot near the top of the image and Ethernet switch at right.

Real world wireless to ethernet adaptor usage.

So if you have older Ethernet only devices or computers -- but don't wish to purchase multiple Wi-Fi cards or USB sticks in order to connect to a mobile hotspot, perhaps a Wi-Fi to Ethernet adapter may be an acceptable solution for your needs.

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