iPad connected to the Internet via Ethernet only

iPad connected to the Internet via Ethernet only

After seeing an eager Redditor discuss their setup for deploying iPads online with just an Ethernet connection, I was curious myself to see if I could get my iPad Air to be wireless-less as well.

It’s obviously not an ideal way to use a tablet in 2014, as it’s probably easier and cheaper to travel with an inexpensive router than the equipment required to get your iPad wired in. But if you have the equipment lying around or just want to experience the proof-of-concept for yourself, it’s certainly a strange thing to witness.

Check below for the setup I used as well as my video experience.

Overall, it’s really not a reliable way to connect to the Internet (and that’s without considering the inconvenience and potential expense) because it just doesn’t work 100% of the time. Simply put, you can’t just unplug it and plug it back in and expect it to work. It’s quite apparent that iOS isn’t designed to entertain this experience.

Here’s what connecting an iPad to Ethernet requires:

-Any iPad (but you already knew that) – just disable cellular data and wifi

-Lightning to USB adapter (Lightning to 30-pin adapter and 30-pin to USB adapter also work; that’s what I used)

-USB cable

-Powered USB hub (I used Satechi’s 7-port setup)

-USB to Ethernet (I had one handy that I hardly use for my MacBook Air)

-Ethernet cable

-Router (I used the latest AirPort Extreme in my video)

-Internet connection (but you also already knew that, right?)

Connect your equipment in that order if you should be good to go. You will want to either put your iPad in Airplane Mode or manually disable wifi and cellular data before you can really try the proof-of-concept.

In my experience, it would only work if your iPad gave you a warning the it did not recognize or support the USB to Ethernet adapter. On the first attempt, the warning prompted as soon as I plugged it in, but after unplugging and replugging it back it, the iPad did not recognize the connection. Rebooting the iPad solved the problem, but this just speaks to the overall wonkiness of such a setup.

Performance wise, my network speed was actually right on par with what my ISP advertises. Moving back to wifi lost about 10 Mbps and 1/3 of the already low upload, but this certainly isn’t a practical setup in the least.

And without further ado, my hands-on experience with connecting my iPad Air to the Internet via Ethernet only:

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42 Responses to “Video: Connect your iPad to the Internet via Ethernet cable with this easy hack”

  1. Ha awesome! My co-workers and I were trying to figure out if this was possible a few months ago since we hardly get any wifi back in our dungeon, but this wouldn’t really work for us since we don’t feasibly have access to the router. Guess we’ll just have to wait for the internet via USB hack!

  2. Tuan Bui says:

    why do we need an iPad with cellular data for this to work? would an ipad wifi-only works the same?

  3. Does it also work without the USB-hub? If you connect the USB-Ethernet dongle directly to the 30pin-USB adapter?

  4. Moises Soto says:

    Interesting. You can save some money by using the Lightning to Mini-USB adapter, instead of using the two adapters shown in the video.

    I’m curious about why he needs the USB HUB instead of conecting the USB to Ethernet adapter directly to the 30-Pin to USB adapter.

    In fact I will try connecting a Micro-USB to Ethernet adapter to my Lightning to Micro-USB adapter. I’ll be back and comment about how this turns out (I’ll have to order the adapter so it may take a while). If it works then it would be awesome, especially if you just connect it to your office network directly instead of using a router.

    • Zac Hall says:

      Yeah the one adapter instead of the two is ideal, that’s just what I had laying around.

      As for using it without the hub, no luck for me. It required the powered usb hub to function at all in my experience.

  5. standardpull says:

    The USB to Ethernet adapter is a high power device – if you’ve ever handled one in action, you can feel the heat. And that’s likely why a powered hub is required – the iPad is unlikely to want to give up all that juice.

    Regardless, this seems really awesome for those big conference settings where WIFI is saturated.

  6. Why use an adapter at all why can’t you run your lighting /USB cable that came with the Ipad directly into the USB hub and then from the hub to USB/Ethernet to Ethernet cable?

  7. jacobgann says:

    wonder if this could work by plugging directly into the usb port on an airport extreme?

  8. This is completely ridiculous and impractical. I love it to bits.

  9. Laughing_Boy48 says:

    I’m sure Samsung will build a tablet with an Ethernet port. They’ll try anything that Apple doesn’t have just to prove they’re a better company at building computing devices.

  10. Kris404 says:

    I wonder if this works?

    USB hub with Ethernet built-in (optionally powered using a 5-volt AC power adapter)
    http://www.kanexlive.com/dualrole
    http://www.kanexlive.com/poweradapter

    You would of course need to have this too for interfacing with the iDevice:
    http://store.apple.com/us/product/MD821ZM/A/lightning-to-usb-camera-adapter?fnode=3a

  11. Question: can you get the net to flow the opposite way, from the iPad to the airport using the cell iPad as the only connection to the net??

    • Kris404 says:

      Using iPhone and iPad as ‘USB 3G/4G modem/dongle’ for Internet connection has been possible for a while via Personal Hotspot along with routers running DD-WRT firmware.

      Airport Extreme only allows you to connect data drives & printers via USB.

  12. 최병기 says:

    wow..great works. i really try for this on my ipad air

  13. has anyone tried to send the net connection (via the hack) to the airport from the iPad with cell??
    ie: ipad w/cell to ethernet to airport extreme wan port (airport then transmits from the net from the iPad

  14. Saved the day for me at a convention that had too much WiFi traffic!!! Thanks soooo much for posting this!!!

  15. Has anyone tried this setup with iPhone?

  16. Suzy Jackson says:

    I work at a radio astronomy observatory where all forms of wireless are banned. This looks like it could be a game changer.

  17. Those of you who have gotten this to work, what devices are you using? I have not been able to replicate this success on an iPod Touch, iPhone 5c, or iPad 2. Even when the prompt appears about not recognizing the hardware, internet is still not available. I’m using all the parts recommended in the article on devices that span iOS 6-7.

  18. Kris404 says:

    Did NOT work with a USB Y cable either. The cabele has 2x Male & 1x Female connectors:
    – Female end connected to the ‘Apple Ethernet adapter’ (for giving extra power)
    – One Male end (data) connected to iPad mini via ‘Lightning USB adapter’
    – The other Male-end (power) connected to ‘Apple USB Power adapter’

  19. Very cool, I’ve been hoping something like this was possible for a long time!

    One consideration though: I take it there’s no feasible way anyone can think of where the iPad is running off A/C power at the same time?