Can’t connect to cellular data on Surface?

Some models of Surface Pro X, Surface Pro (5th Gen), Surface Go, Surface Go 2, Surface 2, and Surface 3 can connect to a cellular data network. If you can’t connect to a cellular network or can’t stay connected, here are some things to try based on the problem you’re having. Select any heading below, and it'll open to show more info:

If you can’t connect to cellular data or share your connection, first try installing the latest drivers from Windows Update. Sharing your cellular data 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 cellular data 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   > 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.

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.
    For Surface 2 and Surface 3, see Remove a SIM card from Surface 2 and Surface 3.
    For Surface Go, Surface Pro (5th Gen), and Surface Pro X, see Insert a SIM into your 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 cellular data, 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.

If Cellular isn’t listed as an option when you select wireless network  in the taskbar, your Surface cellular data (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.

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 cellular data 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 Find your Wi-Fi network password in Windows.

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 cellular data 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 cellular data.

    • If Cellular is undimmed, select the tile to turn off cellular data. Then select the tile again to turn cellular data back on.

    If the cellular data on your Surface won’t turn on, see ”You can’t turn cellular data 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 SIM card.
    For Surface 2 and Surface 3, see Remove a SIM card from Surface 2 and Surface 3.
    For Surface Go, Surface Pro (5th Gen), and Surface Pro X, see Insert a SIM into your 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.

If you can’t turn on cellular data, 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 cellular data 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 2 and Surface 3.

  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 cellular data.

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 cellular data, contact us.

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.

If you are traveling outside of your mobile operator’s network coverage area and want to use a cellular data 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.

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