Friday, February 5, 2010

Subsizided iPads - A Solution For Wireless Providers

You want an iPad but you can't get it? What do you do?

Oh, I'm talking to the wireless carriers out there. Not us regular mobile warriors. But if you're T-Mobile and you want your users to have the iPad but Apple isn't looking to make a deal with you, what do you do? You can go with an Android option. I'm sure HTC or Motorola will be happy to hook you up.

But it's not the iPad after all. No app store or anything like that. Well, I've got a couple of options for you. Neither is as perfect as having AT&T provide the 3G with Apple's blessing. But it'll work.

Option One. Stick with EDGE. Just like what I've got going on with T-Mobile, I continually switch between my G1 and my iPhone. I get 3G speed with the G1 and I often use it to provide wireless connection to my iPhone or Macbook through tethering, thereby, turning my G1 into a Wi-Fi access point.

But when I switch out my SIM card over to the iPhone, I'm instantly downgraded to 2G speed. It's fine by my needs. And it was fine for millions of the original iPhone users as well before the iPhone 3G came along and millions of the original iPhones are still in use.

It might not be a detriment for some iPad users to suffer through EDGE. T-Mobile can sweeten things somewhat with a cheaper data plan. Say, $20 of unlimited use. That can work. T-Mobile can then provide subsidies as well. Maybe something between $100-150 for folks who sign up for a multi-year data plan. These folks would need to buy the 3G version of the iPad and after tax, say in California where sales tax is about 10%, it comes out to about $150 more than the iPad with Wi-Fi only. So, it'll be gentleman-like of T-Mobile to lessen that pain by provide a rebate in exchange a two-year contract.

Why pay $20 for EDGE from T-Mobile when you can get a plan from AT&T for $15 a month? Well, the $15 a month plan limits you to 250MB a month. Slower speed but unlimited or faster speed, cheaper but a real cap. Your choice.

Now, what's more is that in some countries that offer 3G access using the same frequency as AT&T, they can offer 3G speed at whatever price they want.

Option Two. I like this option only because it precludes you from having to buy the more expensive iPad 3G. And unlike option one, option two allows just about any wireless provider support the iPad. Instead of the EDGE option, 3G speed is possible.

All the wireless provider has to do is offer a 3G modem. And there are two ways to do this. The mobile user can buy the modem along with a monthly data access plan or receive the modem for free in lieu of a contact. I like this plan very much because you get a modem along with faster wireless access. Similarly, getting a 3G plan from AT&T provides fast Internet but there is no tethering allowed.

The two drawbacks to consider. One is that you'll end up having to carry around another device. And second, it's a device that relies on an energy source. You know, a battery. And I've yet to come across a battery that doesn't die yet.

Both of these two options aren't limited to T-Mobile USA. As a matter of fact, 3, an Austrian carrier, plans just that by provide a 3G modem along with an iPad along with a two-year data contract. A pretty good deal as the 3G modem allows you to share the connection with other devices within range.

As a matter of fact, just about anyone can provide subsidies on any device by going with the second option. All you need is a 3G modem.

So, for any provider who are feeling down that Apple didn't select you to be an official wireless provider for the iPad or Steve Jobs is currently making you jump through hoops, let him know that you're determined to provide support for the iPad, with or without his blessings.

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