There are two major providers in the United States: Verizon Wireless and AT&T.  Verizon Wireless not only offers data plan services but also sells iPad systems, in 32 or 64 GB bundles.

Verizon and AT&T Wireless Data Plans

Verizon Wireless advertises month-to-month contracts, no obligation deals, and payments as low as $20 per month.  The company sells its services on the MiFi 2200 Intelligent Mobile Hotspot, which they claim is a supremely stable connection that works anywhere within the coverage area (coverage which extends to practically every state, within most communities).  There is also a Fivespot Global Ready 3G Mobile Hotspot, which connects directly to the Verizon Wireless network.  This data plan offers “on-the-go global service”, providing a wireless hub that works for five WI-FI ready products at a time.

Verizon Wireless offers individual plans, family plans, mobile plans and prepaid plans, as well as international services.  All of the company’s plans include unlimited mobile device to mobile device calling, and no roaming fees or long distance charges.  Customers can also enjoy unlimited time during nights and weekends.  They are also the nation’s largest 3G network and guarantee their services as the fastest available.

The individual plan offers limited time options (450 minutes for $39.99 or 900 minutes for $59.99) or an unlimited plan for $69.99.  For extra cost, users can add messaging, web and email, and a family/friends option, which lets users make unlimited calls to specific numbers.  The Family SharePlan offers 2-5 lines and anywhere between 700-2,000 minutes of service, or an unlimited plan.  The average cost is $89.99 per month.  Mobile broadband is also available on the iPad.

AT&T also sells iPads as well as a variety of data plans.  The personal data plan option offers 250MB of data for $14.99 per month or 2GB of data for $25.00 per month.  AT&T offers postpaid and prepaid data plans for iPad customers as well as an Enterprise Plan, which connects all of your existing wireless accounts together in one bill.  The company offers no term commitments, no activation fees and no early termination fees to its customers.

AT&T and Verizon Wireless Compared

Which of the two providers offers the best deal?  Macworld Magazine states that it’s important to determine where you are going to use your device as well as the locations of your friends and family.  Macworld did credit AT&T for its prepaid and postpaid options, noting that Verizon didn’t offer a postpaid option.  Verizon Wireless also offers more options according to higher memory capacity—3GB, 5GB, 10GB, all of which dwarf AT&T’s 2GB maximum limit.  Both Verizon Wireless and AT&T offer no contract deals and cut activation fees, including reactivation fees.

A Side-By-Side Price Comparison

Tethering 

One option you may wish to consider before purchasing a separate data plan for the iPad is whether you are already using a phone from the company.  Tethering the devices so that they share data can help you save money.  Both offer tethering options, although only AT&T offers rollover minutes (at the same price as a comparable Verizon plan without rollover).  Both companies charge $20 to tether, and Verizon offers 2GB of data to the tethered device, while AT&T adds to GB extra data to share between the two devices.

Untethered

US Plans Verizon AT&T
250 MB $20 $15 plus $15 per extra 250 MB
1GB $20 plus $20 per additional GB Not available
2GB Not available $25 plis $10 per additional GB and Free Wi-Fi hotspots
3GB $35 plus $10 per additional GB unavailable

 

The Editor’s Verdict

AT&T has the lowest cost, at $15 for 250MB of data (a plan Verizon doesn’t even offer).  However, advanced users and customers who want lots of multimedia experiences will feel frustrated at AT&T’s lack of options.  Gizmodo.com explained that 250MB can just handle “35 minutes of YouTube video at standard-definition” and browsing social media sites.  Users who are mainly using the iPad for low-bandwidth tasks will be happy with AT&T’s deal.

However, for users who are interested in longer films in HD quality, more storage space (for audio books and songs) and other forms of high-tech web surfing.  As Macworld said it, Verizon offers “an affordable data plan ladder to climb”, which allows you to increase your plan according to how much you actually use it.  AT&T is about cheap and Verizon is about defining your experience.

AT&T recently acquired T-Mobile, so the playing field in America is fairly even.  Customers will likely base their decisions on past home experiences with each company’s respective telephone services, in which case Verizon will probably have the edge.

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