Can’t connect to mobile broadband?

Applies to: Surface Devices

If you're having trouble getting or maintaining a mobile broadband connection on your Surface, here are some things you can try.

Some models of Surface 2 and Surface 3 come with built-in mobile broadband capability. For more info, see Surface features.

Before you begin

If you can’t connect to mobile broadband or share your connection, first try installing the latest drivers from Windows Update. Sharing your mobile broadband connection requires Wi-Fi drivers that work with Wi-Fi Direct.

When updates become available, they’re installed automatically on your Surface when it’s connected to Wi-Fi. Only high-priority updates are installed over metered connections like a mobile broadband connection.

You can also check for updates manually. Here’s how:

  1. Connect your Surface to Wi-Fi, if it's not already connected. For more info, see Connect Surface to a wireless network.

  2. Go to Start  , and select Settings > Update & security > Windows Update.
  3. Select Check for updates.
    If updates are available, they will install automatically. You may need to restart your Surface after the updates have installed.

If you’re still having trouble, check out the solutions below.

Surface says “Insert a SIM” but the SIM card is already in the Surface

If you have just inserted the SIM card, wait at least 30 seconds to see if your Surface recognizes the SIM card. If you still see the message, remove the SIM card tray and check that the card is seated properly in the tray. Here’s how:

  1. Shut down your Surface.

  2. Remove the SIM card tray. Avoid touching the metallic part of the SIM card.
    If you aren’t sure how to remove the SIM card, see Remove a SIM card from Surface.

  3. Replace the SIM card in the tray, lining up the notches on the card and the tray.
  4. Replace the SIM card tray with the logo side toward you, and slide it into your Surface, pressing it in slightly.
  5. Turn on your Surface.

If you’re using a dongle to access mobile broadband, shut down your Surface, remove and replace the dongle, and restart your Surface.

If your Surface still doesn’t recognize the SIM card, try using another data SIM card and see if your Surface recognizes it. If your Surface does recognize the new card, the problem is likely your other SIM card. Contact your mobile operator to replace your SIM card.

If your Surface does not recognize either SIM card, contact us.

Cellular is not a connection option

If Cellular isn’t listed as an option when you select wireless network  in the taskbar, your Surface mobile broadband (4G LTE) modem may be disabled, or your Surface may not recognize your dongle.

First, make sure you’ve installed all the latest Windows updates. If Cellular is still not listed as an option, shut down your Surface and remove and replace the SIM card tray or dongle.

If you still don’t see Cellular when you select wireless network , you can use Device Manager to check the modem on your Surface. Here’s how:

  1. Go to Start , enter device manager, and in the search results, select Device Manager.
  2. Select the arrow next to Network adapters to expand the adapters list, and check to see if Surface 3 Modem Device is listed.

If Surface 3 Modem Device is listed:

  1. Double tap or double click it to open the properties.
  2. Under Driver, select Disable.
  3. Select Yes in the warning box.

  4. Select Enable to restart the modem.

If you still don’t see Cellular when you select wireless network , contact us.

The mobile operator isn't listed under Cellular in Settings

If you’re setting up a Surface for the first time and don’t see a mobile operator listed as an option on the Wireless screen, connect to a Wi-Fi network to complete the setup. You will be able to connect to mobile broadband once your Surface is set up. Here’s how to connect to a Wi-Fi network:

  1. On the Wireless screen, under Wi-Fi, select a wireless network name.
  2. If prompted, enter your wireless network password and select Connect. If you don’t know your password, see How to find your wireless network password.

If you have already set up your Surface and don’t see a mobile operator listed as an option when you go to Start   > Settings > Network & Internet > Cellular, check to see if the mobile broadband connection option is turned off. Here’s how:

  1. Select wireless network   in the taskbar.
  2. Check to make sure Cellular is undimmed.

    • If Cellular is dimmed, select the tile to turn on mobile broadband.
    • If Cellular is undimmed, select the tile to turn off mobile broadband. Then select the tile again to turn mobile broadband back on.
     

    If the mobile broadband on your Surface won’t turn on, see ”You can’t turn mobile broadband on” below.

If you still don’t see the option, try removing and reinserting the SIM card.

  1. Shut down your Surface.
  2. Remove the SIM card tray. Avoid touching the metallic part of the card.
    If you aren’t sure how to remove the SIM card, see Remove a SIM card from Surface.
  3. Replace the SIM card in the tray, lining up the notches on the card and the tray.
  4. Replace the SIM card tray with the logo side toward you, and slide it into your Surface, pressing it in slightly.
  5. Turn on your Surface.

If you still don’t see your mobile operator under Cellular, you likely need a new SIM card. Contact your mobile operator for a replacement.

You can’t turn mobile broadband on

If you can’t turn on mobile broadband, check to see if you are in Airplane mode. To do this:

  1. Go to Start , and select Settings > Network & Internet > Airplane Mode.
  2. Check the toggle under Airplane mode, and if it says On, move it to Off.

If Airplane mode is off and you still can’t turn mobile broadband on, try removing your SIM card, checking it for damage, and reinstalling it.

  1. Shut down your Surface.
  2. Remove the SIM card tray and inspect it for damage, but avoid touching the metallic part of the card.
    If you aren’t sure how to remove the SIM card, see Remove a SIM card from Surface.
  3. Replace the SIM card in the tray, lining up the notches on the card and the tray.
  4. Replace the SIM card tray with the logo side toward you, and slide it into your Surface, pressing it in slightly.
  5. Turn on your Surface.
  6. Try turning on mobile broadband.

If the SIM card is damaged, contact your mobile operator for a replacement. If you get a replacement SIM card and you still can’t connect to mobile broadband, contact us.

You have limited or no connectivity

If you have limited or no connectivity, you may be out of your mobile operator’s range. To find out, check your data signal:

  1. In the taskbar, select wireless network  .
  2. Check to see how many bars are lit up in the cellular icon.
    If you have only one lit bar, or none, you are likely on the edge of or out of your operator’s range. To reconnect, you need to move to get back in range.

You can connect from some locations but not others

If you are traveling outside of your mobile operator’s network coverage area and want to use a mobile broadband connection, make sure that roaming is turned on. Roaming allows you to connect to the Internet even when you are away from your mobile operator’s network. Some operators charge extra for roaming or have a different data plan that includes this. Check with your mobile operator for more info on its roaming plans.

To set your Surface so roaming turns on by default when you are out of your mobile operator’s range:

  1. Go to Start  , and select > Settings > Network & Internet > Cellular.
  2. Select the name of your mobile operator.
  3. Select Connect automatically.
  4. Select Allow roaming.