Want Reliable 3G With That iPad? Say No To AT&T, Here’s How

Yesterday, Apple announced their iPad device.  To those unaware, the iPad is basically a huge iPod Touch featuring a 10″ screen and 10 hours of battery life.  For more about the iPod, check out extensive coverage elsewhere – it’s been covered heavily.

Here’s my angle: I’m very disappointed they have chosen AT&T 3G for their US telco provider.  As many iPhone customers can tell you, AT&T’s 3G network in the United States is absolutely terrible.  I can guarantee that when you get iPads hitting their network, the 3G bandwidth will suffer even more.

Apple is releasing two versions of the iPad: one with only Wi-Fi to get online and a second with 3G data access alongside the Wi-Fi.  My suggestion, if you want reliable 3G data access here in the States, opt for another 3G provider such as Verizon Wireless or Sprint.

This will require getting either a Mi-Fi unit from either of these carriers, but it will allow you to have multiple devices hooked up simultaneously.  This gives you more options when hooking up to the mobile Internet, plus a very reliable and dependable 3G network.

Alternatively (this is the option I would choose), you can get any 3G dongle (as long as it’s not from AT&T) and hook it into a Cradlepoint router.  This way, you’re not tied to a specific carrier, and if you change mobile Internet providers, you just pop in the new card into the Cradlepoint for easy and ubiquitous mobile 3G data access.  For a good option for a Cradlepoint router, see my review of the CTR500.

As a third option, I would suggest an Overdrive device from Sprint.  This MiFi like device will utilize 4G and 3G networks depending on your area.  4G for those unaware, is very very speedy mobile Internet access that Sprint has an exclusive on (amongst the 4 major mobile networks in the United States).

My advice: utilize the Wi-Fi that comes with the base model iPad to enable yourself to access better 3G options from other carriers.  Apple may have gone with AT&T for the built-in 3G option, but with these other options mentioned above, you don’t have to rely upon AT&T’s shoddy 3G network for Internet access whilst on the go.