With the iPad nearing its long awaited launch but initially without 3G capability, Verizon is getting ready for what it sees as "an opportunity" to sell 3G contracts to new iPad users. A purported internal sales memo that was posted on Engadget today details Verizon's plan
to sell its MiFi mobile hotspot product to iPad users. While the idea seems absurd on its face - Verizon's data plan costs far more than AT&T's special iPad rate, and has lower caps - there are some benefits, especially for users longing to be free from AT&T.
The memo's talking points include the fact that the 3G iPad won't go on sale until late next month (though the schedule for the WiFi iPad has already slipped). Verizon also notes that the 3G option adds $130 to the iPad's cost, and repeats the standard "overloaded network with limited coverage" slam. They're entitled, whatever. However, Verizon's MiFi 2200 costs $250, or $50 if you want to go with a two-year contract. The AT&T deal doesn't require a contract, and you get 250MB of data for $15 a month and unlimited for $30. Verizon charges you $40 for up to 250MB, or $60 for 5GB cap, and there's no all-you-can-eat option. If the choice is between that or just waiting a month, it seems like a no-brainer.
Or is it?
One significant difference is that the MiFi can let up to 5 devices connect at once
: while your iPad will just be sitting there being an iPad, a MiFi user can be using his iPad or his netbook or his DSi. Or all of them. So you do get more bang for the many more bucks you'll pay for Verizon. Plus, if the doomsayers are right and the coming of the iPad leads to 3Gmageddon, you'd be better off with the largest wireless carrier in the US.
Additionally, Verizon is said to be a year ahead of AT&T in its planned move to 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) technology. From recent speed trials in Boston and Seattle
, Verizon is claiming 40 to 50 megabit per second downloads with peak uploads in the 20 to 25 Mbps range. These are not numbers you'll see in the real world, of course: normal LTE data rates will be more like 5-12 Mbps downstream and 2 to 5 Mbps upstream. However, the possibility of mobile broadband at cable modem speeds may be one compelling reason for users to pass on integrated 3G with their iPads. Look at it this way: you can get a cheaper iPad and upgrade your MiFi to an LTE-compatible unit when the time comes, or you can be stuck with AT&T-only 3G for the life of your iPad.
So could paying Verizon for 3G be an idea so stupid that it actually makes sense?