How Does the iPad Connect to the Internet?

By Julius Vandersteen

If you recently obtained an iPad or are considering getting one, you might be curious about how the device accesses the Internet. Apple sells two models of the iPad as of the date of publication. The basic iPad connects to the Internet via Wi-Fi, and the iPad Wi-Fi + 3G model also connects over cellular data networks.

About the iPad

The iPad is a battery-powered tablet computer made by Apple, with a 9.7-inch diagonal touch-sensitive, backlit LED display. It has a built-in microphone and two cameras for shooting pictures and videos. A virtual keyboard appears whenever you need to type, such as when answering an email message or entering a search term on the Internet.

Internet Apps

Apple installs a variety of free apps on the iPad, so you can start using it as soon as you take it out of the box, including several apps that connect to the Internet. Use the Safari Web browser to surf the Internet. The Mail app lets you exchange email with your contacts. The App Store app and the iTunes Store apps enable you to browse, search for and download apps, games, music and videos. You can also use the FaceTime app to make free video calls over the Internet.


Both iPad models connect to the Internet wirelessly via Wi-Fi. Press the "Home" button and tap the "Setting" icon on the home screen. Tap "Wi-Fi" and then tap the Wi-Fi setting to "On." Tap the "Ask to Join Networks" option to the "On" setting. This enables the iPad to automatically look for Wi-Fi hotspots and attempt to connect to them. Type a password at the prompt if a Wi-Fi hotspot requires one for access.

Cellular Data Networks

The iPad Wi-Fi + 3G connects to the Internet over Wi-Fi as well as over cellular data networks, which is useful for getting online when you're out of range of a Wi-Fi hotspot. Tap "Settings" and "Cellar Data." Then tap the Cellular Data option to "On" to enable access to the Internet when no Wi-Fi is available. Depending on your service provider, you may have to pay a fee when you access the Internet over a cellular data network.