Saturday, March 5, 2011

iPad Data Plan: Grandfathering Is In At ATT But For Everyone Else, Who's Better?

We have the unlimited data plan with ATT when we bought the original 3G iPad. And there was quite a bit of rumors flying around about just what will happen when you lose your iPad, change hardware, or something else.

Well, ATT has done the right thing and said that people can grandfather in their $30 unlimited data plan. And the thing is it is one of the good things about carriers, this grandfathering concept. Though this makes sense because iPhone users were allowed to keep their unlimited data plan when they upgrade their iPhones. As a matter of fact, some iPhone users are even offered unlimited data plans if they remain with ATT instead of defecting to Verizon.

So, which of the two data plans are better? Those from the incumbent, ATT, or the upstart, Verizon Wireless? Macworld did a nice job of comparison for us.

Not only that, they did point out very important differences that give each carrier advantages as well as disadvantages. For instance, while the iPhone on Verizon's CDMA network cannot hold a call while still allow the user access to data, that is not going to be a major issue on the 3G iPad 2 since you cannot make calls to start with.

Furthermore, ATT's 3G advantage in speed is mitigated by the fact that neither it or Verizon offers unlimited data plans. Both set limits on their top plans which really means that ATT iPad users will get to their limit faster than iPad users who uses their iPad for data access with Verizon.

The gist is that ATT has the cheapest plan coming in at $15 for 250MB of access while Verizon is all over the place with a price range of $20 and up to $80 for 1GB through 10GB.

As someone who has the unlimited plan, I can't help but feel pretty good where I'm sitting. However, if I was a new subscriber, I would probably be looking pretty hard at Verizon's slower CDMA iPad.

But you might have very different needs than I do. For instance, I don't travel abroad much. So I have no need for the GSM version of the iPad. And I'd be very happy with Verizon's broader offering.

Perhaps, I know that I will be home more in May so I'll just go with the 1GB plan. But in June, I'll be going to a conference for a week and I cannot reliably believe there will be WiFi access so I'll probably go with the $50 for 5GB plan. And then in July, there will be a two week vacation and I would love to be able to use my iPad more freely so the 10GB plan for $80 might make more sense.

Obviously, deciding between plans was made easier because in buying the iPad with 3G access, Apple was able to get the carriers to back off and not require suffocating data plans. And this is probably going to be Apple's greatest contribution to consumer choices in the coming years.

So, head over to Macworld and look at their chart. I would have try to duplicated it but why do that when they've already done a fantastic job.

More at Macworld for ATT versus Verizon data plan.

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