How Much 3G is Enough 3G?

By  |  Tuesday, February 2, 2010 at 4:59 pm

When Steve Jobs explained the pricing for the iPad’s AT&T 3G broadband last week, he said that 250MB of data would run $14.99 a month, and unlimited access was $29.99–but that most folks would find the $14.99 plan more than adequate. My immediate reaction was that 250MB seemed ludicrously low.

Turns out that Glenn Fleishman had a similar reaction, but when he checked out his iPhone usage stats, he learned he uses an average of 270MB of 3G data month–just a little bit over the $14.99 plan’s limit. His post shares some worthwhile information about the iPad and its plans (actually, lack of information in some cases–as Glenn points out, neither Apple nor AT&T is yet saying what happens when you exceed the 250MB).

Glenn’s piece prompted me to check my own iPhone stats: In the 7.3 months I’ve owned an iPhone 3GS, I’ve used an average of 450MB of data a month–close to twice the limit. I also own a Verizon EVDO adapter which I use with my laptops; with that, I consume several gigabytes of data a month (but have never bumped up against the plan’s 5GB maximum).

Paying for AT&T phone service and AT&T iPad 3G and Verizon 3G would be a giant chunk of change every month. If I end up an iPad user, my smartest move might be to trade in my EVDO adapter for a MiFi mobile hotspot that would provide wireless broadband to my laptops and an iPad–even at the same time.

Of course, it’s still a bit hard to judge what typical data consumption will be on an iPad–it’s neither a phone nor a notebook. Do you think you could get by on a quarter-gigabyte a month?


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4 Comments For This Post

  1. Backlin Says:

    If you can hold back on HD Youtube or a lot of iTunes purchases from the device, I don’t really see anyone needing more than 250 MB per month. Streaming HD would be better experienced on WiFi anyway, I feel.

  2. iPad Says:

    I use more than 1 GB… =o

  3. andy Says:

    My guess is that certain data (from apple) will be exempt.

    I’m also starting to think that Apple might be considering the MVNO route for mobile voice/data. I’m sure they are getting good margin from AT&T on the data plans but they may not be able to extract the same premiums once the exclusivity wears off and other carriers get in the game. The fact that these 3G iPads are unlocked is also very interesting.

    It seems so odd that Apple’s laptops do not offer an integrated 3g option that maybe they are holding off until they can roll out a proprietary solution. Owning the physical connection and knowing the location has some real advantages.

    Lastly, the mifi solution is clearly becoming more and more the best answer until a better tethering solution comes along.

  4. Bryan Says:

    If you go over the limit you probably get charged a lage amount of money. I got charged $75 on sprint for using 17.4MB of data, and thats discounted from thier usual $0.03 a KB on casual data. That would have ran me $530 for the 17 MB.

    I agree with andy on the mifi. if you are using internet on multiple devices it would be cheaper to get an unlimited plan on the mifi.

    I personally dont use apple, but it would be nice if you could tether with your iPhone to the iPad, or put them on the same unlimited plan for a small extra fee, like $10, to have both devices.