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.

4 comments on “Want Reliable 3G With That iPad? Say No To AT&T, Here’s How
  1. Glad to hear you compare the iPad to the iPod touch and not the iPhone. Unfortunately most of the potential customers are iPhone users who do not know there is better data service to be had. Built in data is convenient though, so here’s hoping for an LTE partnership for iPad rev2.

  2. Based on several of these sorts of sites, I got a Cradlepoint PH 300 and a Virgin Mobile USB modem to provide “as I need it” WiFi for my IPad . The modem works fine on my laptop, but when I plug it into the Cradlepoint it simply says there is no valid WAN device attached. It is very unclear to me how the modem will work with the IPad and these devices. The modem requires an app on my Mac, but no way to install that on the IPad that I know of. I configured the modem on the Mac, but how do I activate it? These are the sorts of details we need on all of these general blogs about great ideas.

  3. Follow up to the prior posting. Cradlepoint’s live chat enabled me to finally get this working. Turns out the firmware needs to be updated, a fact which I would have expected to see on their web site. Once that was done it was easy to set up and began working immediately.

    My point is that too much of these blogs assume it is all magic and will work on “plug and plat” basis. Not so much.

    • Hey Robert,

      thanks for writing. I am glad you found a solution to your issue. Yeah firmware updates are important to keep up on.

      As for blogs…they’re a good place to start, but it’s impossible to write about each and every situation. This is where we all get to experiment and find things out together.

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