Can My Smart TV Connect to Public Wi-Fi?

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Smart TVs have found a way to allow viewers to use video streaming services like never before. All you need is your smart TV, an electrical outlet, and Wi-Fi to binge-watch your favorite series. But if you don’t have your own home Wi-Fi connection, could you use public Wi-Fi?

You can connect your smart TV to public Wi-Fi. However, the strength of your connection may not be as strong as the connection you get at home. You may find that your shows take a longer time to load or need to buffer. It all depends on the public Wi-Fi’s bandwidth.

In this article, we will explain how you can connect your smart TV to a public Wi-Fi network and what you can expect once you complete the process.

Connecting Your Smart TV to Public Wi-Fi

You would connect your smart TV to public Wi-Fi the same way you would connect your device to your network at home. The specific details about connecting your TV to the network will depend on the type of device you purchased. For the most part, you can go into the TV’s settings and connect your TV to the router.

However, there are some things to keep in mind while hooking up your smart TV to public Wi-Fi:

Public Wi-Fi Is Mostly for Web Browsing

The Wi-Fi you connect to in fast-food restaurants, auto shops, and retailers is generally not strong enough to support streaming services. Even after you connect your smart TV to the router, you may:

  • Have your shows pause without warning
  • Have to wait a few minutes to have your selection screen pop up
  • Have the streaming app “crash”

This will ultimately rely on who is providing the signal. Depending on what router you use, you may or may not experience these issues.

Public Wi-Fi Is Not Always Private  

When you use Wi-Fi in a public place, sometimes you will need to sign an agreement saying that you understand your connection is not private. This means that the Wi-Fi’s administrator can see the things you look up.

While you may not have concerns about whether the public Wi-Fi administrator can see what you’re doing or streaming, it is not recommended to make secure purchases while on public Wi-Fi, as this puts you at risk of getting sensitive information stolen.

And, if you have reason to believe that the connection is not secure, you should think twice about entering your personal information.

You May Be Asked to Enter a Username and Password

If you are in public and check the available networks in your area, you will find dozens of potential routers you could connect to. However, many of these routers will require that you enter a username and password.

You may need to do this depending on where you are. For instance, most fast food restaurants do not require you to enter any information; you can simply connect your device to the internet with no questions asked.

However, if you are staying in a hotel, you may be asked to enter your last name and your room number (depending on where you are staying).

Other Options for Connecting Your Smart TV to the Internet

If you cannot connect your smart TV to public Wi-Fi, you still have options when using the device. For instance, you could turn your phone into a mobile hotspot and connect your TV using that connection.

In this situation, it is recommended that you use a Wi-Fi mobile hotspot router, like the NETGEAR Mobile Wi-Fi Hotspot. Using this device, you could access the internet on your smart TV by using your phone’s data.

It is noted that video and music streaming services use a lot of data. Downloads do, as well. You should check your phone’s data plan before considering this option since you could be charged if you exceed your allotted monthly usage.

Alternatively, if you do have a router but one that just can’t connect to Wi-Fi, you could use a LAN adapter to access the internet. Check out this article for more info and what you would need to establish this type of connection.

You Can Connect Other Devices to Public Wi-Fi

Your smart TV is not the only device that you can connect to public Wi-Fi. Most devices that rely on the internet are compatible with these types of networks.

Some other devices that you can use while on public Wi-Fi include your:

  • Phone
  • Tablet
  • Video game console (like the Nintendo Switch)
  • Certain smart home assistants
  • Laptop

Again, your connection’s strength and speed will depend on the public Wi-Fi router’s bandwidth and what you intend to do with your connection.

In Summary

So, not only can you connect your smart TV to public Wi-Fi, you can connect your other smart devices as well. To learn more about how you connect your device to the internet, you will need to consult your TV’s user manual.

Just remember: not all smart TVs are created equal, and what may secure a connection for one device may not necessarily work for another.

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