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Soon your Chromebook could be an LTE or 5G hotspot

The Verge logo The Verge 7/25/2022 Emma Roth
© Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales

If your Chromebook supports mobile connectivity, you may be able to start using it as a hotspot. The upcoming change was spotted by 9to5Google in Chromium Gerrit, the web-based code review system Google’s developers use to work on future updates.

When the feature is available for testing, you will be able to activate it through chrome://flags. Details about the capability are still slim, with developers describing it as a way for a Chromebook to “share its cellular internet connection to other devices through WiFi.” But once it’s rolled out, it should allow you to connect your phone, tablet, or laptop to your Chromebook’s mobile network.

Verizon, T-Mobile, and AT&T already offer — a very limited — line of Chromebooks that you can purchase through them, giving you access to a mobile network right away. You can also add a Chromebook to an existing plan or add a SIM card, which Google describes how to do here.

You can already share your internet connection from a Windows 10 or 11 device connected via ethernet, Wi-Fi, or through a cellular network (if your device supports it). And while MacBooks also have an internet-sharing feature, there currently aren’t any MacBook models that come with an option for cellular connectivity.

Giving Chromebooks the capability is a smart move, considering the devices typically have a long battery life or are already being used while plugged in, meaning longer connectivity. It’s still unclear how much power the hotspot feature will drain from Chromebooks, but it will likely vary from device to device. For business customers or just folks who spend a lot of time away from Wi-Fi, building the hotspot directly into the laptop could mean having one less item to keep track of while avoiding draining your phone’s battery just to stay online.

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