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AT&T on iPad 3G data: We can handle it

Mike Schramm
Mike Schramm|January 29, 2010 5:30 PM
You probably had exactly the same response I did when you heard that AT&T would be handling the 3G data plan for the iPad: "Them again?" Sure, the deal is much better, and it's completely optional (you can get the iPad without 3G if you don't want it at all), but still: AT&T? Hasn't Apple heard enough complaining about their network without sending a bunch of tablet computers and all of that data downloading onto it?

It's cool, says AT&T, we got it. That's what they told the New York Times' Bits blog yesterday, saying that they planned to put another $2 billion into cell phone towers, connectivity upgrades, and other costs for their network. But, and this is the part that kind of scares me, they also say that they expect most iPad users to stay near Wi-Fi hot spots, since the iPad plan comes with a subscription to every AT&T hotspot out there. They say they hope that will lessen the blow.

Frankly, I doubt it -- if I'm paying $30 a month for "unlimited" on top of the $130 I paid for the option, I'm probably going to be using that 3G everywhere I can. And while AT&T says that they're getting better and better all the time, the worst case scenario is that the iPad's high data usage will knock out even longstanding iPhone customers. Hopefully this is all much ado over nothing, and that $2 billion will cover us as needed, but AT&T hasn't exactly earned the trust that Apple continues to put in them.