Average Joe's Tips

AT&T: 3G On the iPad or Not?

To buy 3G or not? That is the question on most people’s minds when they are considering buying an iPad. If you are like most people, you are already paying for internet access at home and with your current phone carrier. Should you spend the money and incur another 3G charge with AT&T? Or is there a less expensive or better alternative? When considering alternatives you should factor in the cost of a 3G iPad which is about $130 more than the WiFi model and the AT&T monthly charge of $29.99 for unlimited 3G access. One option to consider is purchasing a mobile hotspot from Verizon or Sprint. In addition to giving your iPad access to the internet, you can connect up to a total of 5 devices to the hotspot so you may be able to get rid of your home internet service. The Verizon MiFi sells for $49.99. The monthly charge on the MiFi is $59.99 a month for 5GB of 3G service. The only bummer is if you exceed the 5GB cap, you would have to pay extra for the additional data which is not cheap. Similar to the MiFi, Sprint’s Overdrive 3G/4G Mobile Hotspot costs $149.99. Sprint’s monthly charge is the same as the MiFi at $59.99 a month for 5GB of 3G service or UNLIMITED 4G service. However, only 13 out of 50 states have Sprint’s 4G service – so if you are lucky enough to live in a city with Sprint 4G coverage, this might be the most cost effective solution around. Bottom line – if you expect to be an iPad data hog, then AT&T’s 3G service may be the most economical as the plan allows unlimited data or if you live in a Sprint 4G area. If you don’t expect to exceed to the 5GB service and have a family or multiple people that need to connect when you are on the go, then the Verizon and Sprint options may be more beneficial.

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