Does Alexa Need Wi-Fi?

Learn what Alexa can do offline

This article explains how to use Alexa without a Wi-Fi internet connection, including information about what Alexa can do offline and how to use Alexa with mobile data.

Can I Use Alexa Without Wi-Fi?

The processing power and storage available on Alexa devices are very limited, so most of Alexa’s functionality relies on an internet connection provided via Wi-Fi. That can be a standard Wi-Fi network like you have at home that uses your home internet connection, mobile data from a dedicated hotspot device, or a phone set up to work as a hotspot.

When you ask Alexa a question or ask Alexa to perform a task, your voice is recorded and transmitted over the internet to Amazon’s servers for processing. Without an internet connection, Alexa can’t understand your commands, and it wouldn’t know how to reply even if it did. That means your Alexa loses almost all of its functionality when disconnected from the internet.

Can Alexa Work With Mobile Data?

Alexa doesn’t care how it’s connected to the internet. All that matters is it has an internet connection. The connection has to be via Wi-Fi because Echo devices don’t have Ethernet ports, but Alexa works just as well on mobile data as it does on your home internet connection. The easiest way to use Alexa with mobile data is to install the Alexa app on your phone. Whenever you’re out of range of a Wi-Fi network and start using your mobile data, the Alexa app will run just fine on your mobile connection.

If you want to use an Echo device with mobile data, you need to use a hotspot device or set up your phone as a hotspot and connect the Echo to that. This process is known as tethering, and not all cell phone service providers allow tethering. Before you try using your Echo device with mobile data, check with your service provider to make sure tethering is allowed.

If you use your phone as a mobile hotspot for your Echo, the Echo will use your mobile data. This may result in charges depending on how your mobile data contract is structured.

If your provider does allow tethering, then here’s how to use Alexa on your Echo device with mobile data:

  1. Plug in your Echo and wait for it to power on.

    A powered on Echo Dot.
    Jeremy Laukkonen
  2. Press and hold the action button until the Echo enters setup mode.

    An Echo Dot in setup mode.
    Jeremy Laukkonen

    The ring light will turn orange to indicate setup mode is ready.

  3. Open the Alexa app on your phone, and tap Continue.

    It may take a few moments for the Alexa app to notice your Echo is ready to set up, so the option to continue may not appear right away.

  4. Wait for Alexa to scan for Wi-Fi networks.

  5. On the Wi-Fi connection screen, tap Use this device as a Wi-Fi hotspot.

    Adding an Echo Dot to Wi-Fi connection.
  6. Tap Continue.

  7. Enter the network name and password for your phone's hotspot connection, and tap CONNECT.

  8. Tap CONTINUE.

    Continue > Connect > Continue in Alexa Wi-Fi Hotspot Setup
  9. Turn on your phone's hotspot.

  10. Return to the Alexa app and tap CONTINUE.

  11. Select your preferred language, and tap CONTINUE.

    Choosing a language for your Echo Dot inside the Echo app.
  12. Select a group for your Echo and tap CONTINUE, or tap SKIP.

  13. Select an address and tap CONTINUE, or tap Enter a new address.

    Using your Echo while on a trip? Use the "enter a new address" option to receive relevant local news and weather instead of news and weather from where you live.

  14. Tap DONE.

    The final configuration settings for the Echo Dot.
  15. Your Echo device is now ready to use your phone's mobile data as a hotspot.

    When you return to a location where you have Wi-Fi internet access, make sure to set up your Echo again to use that connection and avoid using more mobile data than you need to.

What Can Alexa Do Offline?

While Alexa relies on an internet connection for most of its functionality, there are a few exceptions. If you find yourself without any internet connection at all, and tethering your phone or using a dedicated hotspot aren’t options, there are a few things for which you’ll still be able to depend on your Alexa.

Here’s what your Alexa can do when it doesn’t have a connection to the internet:

  • Alarms: If you've set the alarm on your Echo device, it will still go off at the appointed time even if there is no internet connection. The catch is you can’t turn the alarm off or change it in any way without connecting to the internet.
  • Bluetooth speaker: If you have previously paired your phone or another Bluetooth-enabled device with your Echo, you can still use the Echo as a Bluetooth speaker even if it isn’t connected to the internet. You do need an internet connection for the initial setup process.
  • Limited local voice control: Some Echo devices can process voice commands to control local devices like light switches, provide the time and date, alter alarms and timers, and control the volume of the echo device, all without an internet connection. The Echo Plus (first and second generation) and the Echo Show (second generation) have this capability.
  • Why does Amazon Alexa need access to my Wi-Fi connection information?

    Amazon devices require Wi-Fi to access features and skills. Echo devices can only connect to Wi-Fi with help from the Alexa app, where you can enter your Wi-Fi information securely.

  • How fast does the Wi-Fi need to be for Alexa?

    Amazon recommends an Internet connection with speeds of 0.51 Mbps or greater for streaming through Alexa-enabled devices.

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