Why Pay the iPad ‘3G Tax?’ Get a Pocketspot and Use Wi-Fi

Om said it best in less than 140 characters: “If i had to buy an iPad, I would buy a WiFi one with a Sprint MiFi. Who needs to blow money on a crappy AT&T 3G connection.”

His late Wednesday tweet summed up perfectly my reaction to the Apple iPad’s pricing for a model with connectivity to AT&T’s 3G cellular service: Why would you pay an extra $130 “3G tax” for the privilege of connecting one device to a network whose underpinnings are still suspect? Especially when you can get a mobile Wi-Fi router, either in the slim 3G-only version or in the beefier, brawnier hybrid 3G/4G configuration — and have better connectivity for your iPad and four other devices?

From AT&T’s standpoint, the pricing structure makes sense — by making it a high leap over the base iPad price, you can guess many folks will opt not to spring for a 3G version, especially since (unlike an iPhone) this device is primarily designed for content consumption or creation, and not necessarily for communications. (Though we fully expect Andy A to be the first to use it in an airborne Wi-Fi/VoIP configuration)

The fact that it will run on AT&T’s upgraded 7.2 Mbps version of 3G means that it will have access to the newest equipment on Ma Bell’s cellular net, unlike all the older iPhone users who are stuck on the slower, clogged version of AT&T’s 3G operations. So with smaller user numbers and a fast path to the fast lane of the network, why not offer unlimited data. Sort of like giving free drinks to 1K passengers on United. A far smaller number than the shlubs who have to buy their own liquor in steerage.

Bottom line? If you want an iPad and want Internet connectivity for it, go the pocketspot route as suggested by Om, with either a 3G version (Sprint and Verizon) or one with WiMAX if that service is offered in your locale (Clearwire’s Clear Spot or Sprint’s Overdrive). Sprint’s, at $60 per month for service and $100 for the Overdrive, seems a smarter play if only because it will continue to provide connectivity no matter which latest Wi-Fi device you add to your traveling arsenal. Seems to make more sense than overpaying for questionable connectivity to a single, limited device.

8 Responses to “Why Pay the iPad ‘3G Tax?’ Get a Pocketspot and Use Wi-Fi”

  1. Steven Wastie Says:

    Picking up on the iPad pricing thread from you and GigaOM, the MiFi + iPad combo is an under-appreciated approach to solving the connected device problem. When you take the MiFi device and layer on plug-and-play enterprise features like customer specific SSIDs and security keys, you end up with a very practical solution to getting connected without the downside of 3G pricing plan restrictions and device refresh cycles. For my money, I have a MiFi, I’m getting an iPad and I’m not spending any time thinking about 3G roaming bills or lock in to whatever device comes next. For more on MiFi http://bit.ly/dxxGvs

  2. iPad + MiFi = solving the connected device problem | iPass.com Says:

    […] up on the iPad pricing thread from Sidecut Reports and GigaOM’s Wednesday tweet, the MiFi + iPad combo is an under-appreciated approach to […]

  3. klingelt Says:

    The Ipad looks like fun to play with, but I doubt if you can really work with it? But many people will buy it because of it look.

  4. Light Reading Mobile - Kaps Korner - This Week in WiMax Says:

    […] were somewhat stunned by the choice of AT&T as sole network provider for the 3G-enabled option. But our analysis at the time, confirmed later by announcements from AT&T itself, was that Ma Bell isn’t actually keen on […]

  5. Timothy Tripp Says:

    I wanted to do just what you’re suggesting, but both Verizon and Sprint have 5GB caps on their data usage (with huge charges for overage), and that’s just unacceptable to me. I’m also not going to commit to 2 years with one of these companies or pay $60 a month for data. So, I’m waiting for my iPad 3G right now.

    If either Sprint or Verizon wants my business they can do this:

    1. Sell me a Mifi for $99
    2. Remove the 5GB data cap
    3. Charge me $30 a month for unlimited data

    That’s it. I have no particular loyalty to AT&T. I’m even a little peeved at them because although my iPhone can connect at Starbucks, my laptop can’t without paying them more (and they don’t offer tethering on my iPhone which is an entirely different rant).

    Honestly, the carriers need to accept that Americans want unlimited plans for reasonable prices. They say they’re afraid of P2P traffic but they could just block that type of traffic through software and Terms of Use. The carriers are, right now, like AOL and Prodigy were when the Internet started to go mainstream unlimited about 10 years ago, trying to give people a certain number of hours a month they could get online. It’s time to move past that and since the carriers aren’t DOING that I’m glad Apple has forced at least one (AT&T) to think forward.

  6. iPad + MiFi = solving the connected device problem | Enterprise Mobility at iPass Says:

    […] up on the iPad pricing thread from Sidecut Reports and GigaOM’s Wednesday tweet, the MiFi + iPad combo is an under-appreciated approach to […]

  7. MiFi and iPad to get connected without the 3G pricing worry | Enterprise Mobility at iPass Says:

    […] up on the iPad pricing thread from Sidecut Reports and GigaOM’s Wednesday tweet, the MiFi + iPad combo is an under-appreciated approach to […]

  8. MiFi and iPad to get connected without the 3G pricing worry | iPass Says:

    […] up on the iPad pricing thread from Sidecut Reports and GigaOM’s Wednesday tweet, the MiFi + iPad combo is an under-appreciated approach to […]

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