Cellular data for Surface devices with LTE Advanced: FAQ

Here are answers to frequently asked questions about cellular data on the Surface Pro X, Surface Pro (5th Gen) LTE, Surface Go with LTE Advanced, and Surface Go 2 with LTE Advanced.

To use cellular data on Surface Pro X, you can do one, or both, of the following:

  • Use a nano SIM and data plan from your mobile operator. Go to Insert a SIM card into your Surface to learn where to insert your SIM.

  • Use the embedded SIM (eSIM) that comes built into your Surface and the Mobile Plans app available on Windows 10. In the Mobile Plans app, you may be able to add your Surface to your current mobile operator account or sign up with a new one.

To learn how to set up your LTE connection, see Set up your LTE connection on your Surface.

Switch to a non-metered network

When a trusted Wi-Fi network is available, use it instead of cellular data. Wi-Fi can be less expensive, or even free. To learn how to connect to Wi-Fi, see Connect to a Wi-Fi network in Windows 10.

Switch to a different data plan 

If you have both types of data plans (one from your mobile operator and one from another mobile operator through the Mobile Plans app), you can switch between them at any time in Cellular settings. To use the mobile operator SIM card, select Start  > Settings  > Network & Internet  > Cellular ,, then select SIM1 for Use this SIM for cellular data. To use the data plan on your eSIM, select eSIM for Use this SIM for cellular data

Note: If this is your first time using an eSIM, you need connect to Wi-Fi and open the Mobile Plans app. For more info, go to Add your Windows 10 PC to your mobile account to get online.

 

To use cellular data on Surface Pro (5th Gen) with LTE Advanced, you can do one or both of the following:

  • Use a nano SIM card and data plan from your mobile operator.

  • Use the embedded SIM (eSIM) that comes built into Surface Pro (5th Gen) with LTE Advanced and the Mobile Plans app in Windows 10. In the Mobile Plans app, you might be able to add your device to your current mobile operator account or sign up with a new one.

To learn how to set up your LTE connection, see Set up your LTE connection on your Surface.

Note: To add your device to a new or existing mobile account through the Mobile Plans app, you’ll need to have Windows 10 (Version 1803) installed. To find out which version of Windows you have, see Which Windows operating system am I running? To check for updates, select Start > Settings > Update & security > Windows Update > Check for updates.

Switch to a non-metered Wi-Fi network

When a trusted Wi-Fi network is available, use it instead of cellular data. Wi-Fi can be less expensive, or even free. To learn how to connect to Wi-Fi, see Connect to a Wi-Fi network in Windows 10.

Switch to a different data plan

If you have both types of data plans (one from your mobile operator and one from another mobile operator through the Mobile Plans app), you can switch between them at any time in Cellular settings. To use the mobile operator SIM card, select Start  > Settings  > Network & Internet  > Cellular , then select SIM1 for Use this SIM for cellular data. To use the data plan on your eSIM, select SIM2 for Use this SIM for cellular data.

To get cellular data on your Surface Go with LTE Advanced or Surface Go 2 with LTE Advanced, use a nano SIM card and data plan from your mobile operator.

Learn how to setup your LTE connection in Set up your LTE connection on your Surface.

Switch to a non-metered Wi-Fi network

When a trusted Wi-Fi network is available, use it instead of cellular data. Wi-Fi can be less expensive, or even free. To learn how to connect to Wi-Fi, see Connect to a Wi-Fi network in Windows 10.

Talk to your mobile operator about the right data plan for you. One size doesn’t fit all. It really depends on how you use your device, how often, and where. Here are some things to consider:

  • Connect to a Wi-Fi network. If you have a limited cellular data plan, connect to a Wi-Fi network that you trust when possible. Wi-Fi is typically less expensive than a cellular data connection.

  • Ensure that your cellular data connection is set to use metering. This can help you reduce the amount of data you use by limiting the scope of updates, pausing downloads, not updating Start menu tiles, and restricting other things that send and receive data. To find out if your cellular data connection is set as metered, select Start  > Settings  > Network & Internet  > Cellular   > Advanced options. On the Advanced options screen for your cellular data connection, look at the Set as a metered connection setting under Metered connection.

  • Keep track of your estimated data usage. Do this by using an app from your operator or through Windows network settings by selecting Start  > Settings  > Network & Internet  > Data usage . If you bought a prepaid plan from a mobile operator through the Mobile Plans app, select the Network  on the the taskbar, then look at the amount of data remaining that’s listed under the cellular network name.

  • Limit the amount of syncing you do over a metered connection. For example, in your settings for OneDrive, turn off syncing over metered connections. Enable syncing only when you need to upload or download to OneDrive. To determine which apps can use cellular data, select Start  > Settings  > Network & Internet  > Cellular  > Choose apps that can use your cellular data.

  • Change your email download settings to manual instead of automatic.

  • Limit data-intensive activities. These include using apps that stream data to your Surface and sharing your connection—for example, playing videos, games, or music, or using your Surface as a mobile hotspot.

Using an app from your mobile operator

Many mobile operators provide an app you can use to view your account information, data usage, and more.

Your mobile operator’s app may be installed automatically during setup. Or, you can look for an app on your mobile operator’s website or in the Microsoft Store.

To see whether you have an app from your mobile operator installed:

  1. Select Start  > Settings  > Network & Internet  > Cellular .

  2. Under Cellular, select the network you want to use. If you see View My Account, you have an app from your mobile operator installed.

If you’re concerned about costs, and have a plan with a mobile operator, contact them to learn about international data plan options. You may also be able to buy a prepaid SIM card or cellular data plan from a mobile operator in the country you’re visiting.

When you arrive in another country, you can also open the Mobile Plans app and buy a plan from a mobile operator if they offer any in that area. For more info, see Add your Windows 10 PC to your mobile account to get online.

Either way, you may want to change some settings on your Surface to avoid possible data charges. For example, don’t allow roaming when you’re in an area that isn't covered by your mobile operator. 

Tip: When traveling, turn off cellular data and use a Wi-Fi connection when it's available to avoid charges.

Surface Pro (5th Gen), Surface Pro X
If this is your first time using an eSIM and you don't have an existing data plan or SIM, you need connect to Wi-Fi to download an eSIM profile from a mobile operator. For more info, see Add your Windows 10 PC to your mobile account to get online.

Note: Your mobile account must be active, or you must have bought a plan from a mobile operator through the Mobile Plans app for your eSIM to connect to a cellular network.

It could be one or more of the following:

  • You need to install the latest Surface and Windows updates.

  • You may not have cellular coverage.

  • You may not have an active data plan.

  • You need to make sure the access point name (APN) is recognized for your mobile operator. To learn how to add or change an APN, see Cellular settings in Windows 10.

  • If you have selected Let Windows manage this connection, cellular data isn't used when you're connected to a Wi-Fi network or using a wired ethernet connection. To check if you've selected this option, go to Start  > Settings  > Network & Internet  > Cellular . To connect to a cellular network and use cellular data, you’ll need to disconnect from any other networks first.

For info about how to solve these problems, see Can’t connect to cellular data on Surface.

Contact your mobile operator about replacing your SIM card.

If the SIM card tray on your Surface is lost, damaged, or stuck, contact us.

Yes. Connecting to a cellular data network uses the antennas in Surface models with LTE Advanced. This uses battery power, and draws power from the battery. For tips on making your battery charge last longer, see How to charge Surface.

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