Overcoming iPad 3G and AT&T Screwage

If you’re like me, your jaw hit the floor when you realized you’d have to pay at least $25 extra a month to use the 3G features on your iPad.  That was already on top of your $30 data plan with your phone.  Well, there are some OTHER options thankfully and we’ll explore them with this blog. 

If you haven’t decided on an iPad yet, this blog will help you significantly in making an informed decision.  When deciding on the type of iPad to get I chose the cheapest one I could find which would be a refurbished, 16GB, Wi-Fi only for the following reasons:

  • The refurbished was $50 less and came with the same warranty
  • I use my phone as my MP3 and podcast player so that saves quite a bit space
  • Applications typically don’t take up that much space
  • Samsung Galaxy (Android) and HP Slate (Win 7) are coming out along with a slew of other iPad-like devices. Competition and prices are sure to be volatile.
  • I saved $120 on not getting the 3G iPad (which I quickly blew on all manner of applications and accessories)
  • I can use a portable hotspot to make up for the 3G!

There are a variety of options when choosing the portable hotspot to replace the built-in 3G. What a typical hotspot will enable you to do is share a 3G/4G network with any number of devices (usually 4-8). Therefore your laptop, phone and iPad can benefit rather than just locking in with the 3G iPad. The devices and the monthly plans are EXPENSIVE in my opinion so choose wisely.

Option 1: Smart Phone or “Droid” Phone

Personally, I chose to go with a Verizon Droid 2 and saved quite a bit of money as well as obtained the ability to:

  • Connect multiple Wi-Fi devices to Verizon’s 3G network (2GB limitation) for $20 a month.  Compare that to the $50-60 range of option 3 below.
  • Upgrade my internal RAM via a SIM card.
  • Unlimited data plan for your phone is $30 – unlike AT&T’s new $25 2GB limited plan.
  • Display and stream flash technology.
  • Take advantage of some 60,000 FREE applications. (But who has that kind of time?)
  • Take pictures with 5 megapixle camera.
  • Synch to iTunes via Media Link application. (No DRM support)
  • Huge increase in functionality and significant decrease in eye candy when compared to the iPhone.

Option 2: AT&T iPhone Customer

AT&T just announced their new tethering service and data plans:

  • Unlimited data plans are being replaced with limited 2GB plans for $25 a month.  You can automatically purchase 1 GB for $10 if you go over.
  • Tethering is an additional $20 (so $45 total over standard phone service).  But you cannot tether from your iPhone to your iPad.
  • In Europe, it appears iPads may have the ability to tether soon. 
  • iPad 3G owners will have the option to switch to $25 – 2GB limited plan.  No tethering stateside with this plan yet. 

So stacked against the Droid option you have the following:

Scenario Data Plan Total Monthly Comments
  • iPhone + Tethering
  • iPad 3G
  • $25 2GB iPhone
  • $25 2GB iPad
  • $20 Tethering
$70 No iPad tethering supported. USB/Bluetooth is slower and shorter range
  • iPhone
  • iPad 3G
  • $25 2GB iPhone
  • $25 2GB iPad
$50 No tethering.
  •  iPad 3G Tethering

 

  • $25 2GB
~$45 Europe only (maybe).  Most convenient given different employee phone plans.
  • Droid
  • iPad WiFi
  • $30 Unlimited
  • $20 2GB Hotpot
$50 OPTIMAL.  Unlimited phone data plan.  WiFi is faster, longer range and supports multiple devices.

Finally, I would resist the urge to Jail Break + MyWi. Although it’s now legal to Jail Break, it’s probably not legal to circumvent AT&T’s tethering plan. You may risk getting shutdown or legal action.

Option 3: Wi-Fi Hotspot Device

With this option you can choose from any number of mobile hotpot devices like Spint’s Overdrive, Verizon’s MiFi and Clear’s iSpot. Usually they’ll let you connect multiple devices to take advantage of the 3G/4G network. Be careful on your choice as some have major GOTCHAS:

  • Clear’s iSpot is for iOS devices only – iPad, iPhone and etc.
  • Sprint’s Overdrive is EXPENSIVE because of the 4G most likely. However, there’s a ton of reviews complaining about how spotty/scarce the 4G network is. $60 for 3G access is terrible in my opinion.
  • Some devices are really expensive, ranging from $100-300.
  • Battery life on the phone hotspots is pretty low – around 2 hours for some and it depends on the number of devices you connect.

The information below is probably not 100% accurate for pricing. I provided a link to my source where possible but please do your own research.

Device

Band

Monthly
Cost

Device
Cost

Description

Sprint Overdrive

3G/4G

$60

$100

Mobile device

Clear iSpot

4G

$25

$100

iOS Only.
Mobile device, Coverage is very spotty.

Link

Clear Spot 4G+

3G/4G

$55

$250+

Mobile device, 2 year
contract. Also has $6 lease plan
instead of purchasing device. Any
Wi-Fi device.

Link

Sprint Evo
Smart Phone (Android)

3G/4G

~$50

Varies

$30 for wifi
hotspot

$? For unlimited data plan

Link

Verizon MiFi

3G

$60

$100

Mobile Device

Link

Verizon Android Phone

3G

~$50

Varies

$20 for wifi
hotspot

$30 for unlimited data plan

iPad 3G via AT&T

3G

$30

$100+ over WiFi model

$15 250MB plan available

Link

MyWi + Jailbreaking

3G

iPhone data plan

$10

Legal to jail break. Probably not legal to tether.

Link

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~ by spninjablog on September 28, 2010.

One Response to “Overcoming iPad 3G and AT&T Screwage”

  1. […] – I did a ton of research on finding the best Wi-Fi Hotspot solution here.  May be worth the read if you want to save some […]

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