Friday, March 4, 2011

AT&T or Verizon: Which Carrier will Offer the Best Data Plan for the iPad 2?

When Apple announced the iPad, featuring improvements across the board from the original iPad including increased processing speed, a slimmer design, less weight, two cameras and a gyroscope, they also announced it would be available from two Wireless carriers.

So, the iPad 2 is unlike the original iPad which solely utilized AT&T’s data network AT&T data network. iPad 2 owners, in the U.S. have a choice between AT&T and Verizon for purchasing the 3G versions of the iPad 2.

Which wireless service provider will give consumers the best data plan?

According to Computerworld, Verizon will offer tiered monthly data plans:
•$20 for 1GB
•$35 for 3GB
•$50 for 5GB
•$80 for 10GB

AT&T offers two options (assuming of course you aren’t one of the fortunate ones grandfathered in with access to unlimited data at $25):
•$14.99 for 250MB
•$25 for 2GB

That said, it "appears" that AT&T will provide the lower monthly rate plan. Their entry level is lower at $14.99, but it offers a measly 250MB of Bandwidth or data download. That is not much at all. If you go over, which is almost impossible not to do so, you will get an additional $250 for a total of 1GB of data. So it is most likely that a user will pay at least $29.98 for 500MB of Bandwidth. Usage in excess of 250 MB during any 30-day period to be billed at $14.99 for each additional 250 MB. So if you used 1GB of data in a 30 day period, you could pay $59.96 for that month.

So what appears to be a good deal might not be; therefore it may make more sense to go with the $25 plan for the 2GB. If you go over, you'll get an additional 1 GB automatically for $10 more. The only silver lining is that there is no contract and you can turn it on and off without penalty.

The AT&T plans are for 30 days and are automatically renews every 30 days, unless you cancel the service prior to the start of the 30-day renewal. Service may be cancelled at any time by visiting a retail store or doing so directly from the iPad. No term commitment or termination fees apply. Unused data does not rollover to the next 30-day period. Te bottom-line is that you need to be watchful in the first month to determine your data usage. Things you could do to help reduce the usage is to download new or updated app while connected to WiFi instead of doing so while one the wireless carrier's network. Keep in mind that the first few month may be heavy as people tend to put the device to work often in the first few days, checking out websites, setting up emails that download data to update the local device and downloading all the cool apps you were told about.

Verizon Wireless

With the iPad 1, you could connect only through Wi-Fi just via a Mifi™ Mobile Hotspot on Verizon. The plan they offered was a month-to-month, no obligation data plan, starting at $20 for 1GB. With the iPad 2, there is no need for a separate Mifi device because the modem is built-in to the iPad 2.

For the iPad2, Verizon will offer a $20 plan with 1GB of data, $35 for 3GB, $50 monthly access for 5GB, and $80 gives you 10GB of data usage every month. Although the start price point is $5 more than that of AT&T, you will have 4 times more data to use. Which one is right for me? Unless you stream YouTube or Pandora radio all the time, I would suggest you to start with 1GB first. It’s plenty for web browsing and checking emails every day. I doubt anyone will be choosing 10GB plan. Since there is no contract involved, you can choose to upgrade to a higher tiered plan if you are approaching the limit.

Another item of note concerning iPad 2, is how one pays for the data plan. When launched, AT&T will allow iPad users to choose a postpaid plan whereby AT&T will add up your data usage and then add it to your monthly wireless bill. Verizon will not offer such an option, keeping only the prepaid version.

Thankfully for consumers, neither company requires one to execute a contract for the data plan. Unfortunately Apple did make it easy for consumer to really have a choice beyond the purchase of the iPad 2.

Knowing which company's data plan you want to use is important because you have to choose one or the other. The iPad 2 doesn't work with both networks; you have to choose one or the other at the time of your purchase. It would better if a single iPad 2 had both cellular antennas so that you could swap out either service at will, bit alas that is NOT possible. So which 3G-enabled iPad 2 are you going to get? Knowing which data plan you will use is really the deciding factor.

By Carl W. Brooks
Mar 4, 2011

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