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What Will 4G Service for Your iPad Really Cost?

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By , dealnews Features Director

One of the most notable upgrades for the third generation iPad is the inclusion of 4G LTE connectivity. This will allow users to access media without a wireless connection, at speeds much faster than 3G. But of course, this service doesn't come for free. Data tiers vary based on the carrier (see the chart below), but prices start at $14.99 per month for 250MB through AT&T.

So which data tier seems reasonable for the new iPad? Using 4G doesn't consume more data, but you will obtain the resulting media much more quickly. As GigaOM's Apple blog points out, at its best, 4G is so fast that you could use a full 5GB of data in just nine minutes. Under both AT&T and Verizon, that'll cost you a cool $50.

But will you even use that much data to begin with? According to a survey from last summer, most smartphone owners averaged no more than 582MB per month via 3G services. But how many of you currently skip a YouTube video on your tablet via 3G because it sputters and stalls? If 4G works as well as it's supposed to, it seems plausible that users will be more keen on tapping into more data.

This is especially true as the iPad draws ever closer to being a true entertainment center, most notably with access to streaming media through the iCloud. To put this into perspective, CNET claims that streaming "even 30 minutes of high-resolution video every day will take your usage to about 5GB per month."

Now that the 4G price structure is clear, will you spring for a 4G-enabled iPad? Do the data prices make the Wifi-only model more appealing? Or perhaps you'll look to the newly-reduced iPad 2 instead, which we've already seen drop to $360. Sound off in the comments below!

Photo credits top to bottom: AT&T and Apple


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6 comments
dealnews-Lindsay
You'll unfortunately have to pay for an additional plan for the iPad. (If you want to hear more about that, our podcasters discussed your question while recording today, it'll be on the site tomorrow morning.)
rpiercy
This may be a silly question, but if you already pay for a data plan on AT&T (or Verizon) for your phone do you have to pay for an additional plan for the iPad?
yutrade67
I got throttled on a unlocked smartphone. Love to see you go truly unlimited on an iPad. I got the top 5% text maybe three times over three billing cycles. Last time was so lucky. I have ditched my 3GS and iPhone 4 in favor of a unlocked. I might even cancel data altogether in the future(I have more than twice the Internet enabled devices than people in the house right now).
yutrade67
I have ATT unlimited data but got throttled at 100k down stream a week before my billing period and I wasn't even at 2GB. The way I see it in the future, you pay what you use and if you use less than planned, get charged the same amount.

Dropping fix Internet is a bad idea. But maybe switching between cable and dsl every time the price goes up is viable just to keep them on their toe.
efithian
I have un unlimited iPad plan with ATT. While ATT may throttle data on an iPhone, it apparently will not do that on a iPad, so the unlimited data is truly unlimited.
sharkatac9
I'm going full throttle, sortof. Just pre-ordered a "new" iPad but opted for the 16g wi-fi+4g. This will be my first tablet (as I try to ween myself off the laptop). If I can tether my husbands laptop, we can drop the AT&T Internet service and redirect that cost to 4g. Is this wishful thinking on my behalf?
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