Choosing the Best 3G Plan: Advice from Aunt TUAW

Hello Aunt TUAW,

I’m about to purchase a new iPad 3G. I’m clear on the no-contract aspect and the $15 monthly fee for 250MB, but I’m unsure how 250MB translates into actual web usage. I’ve been told that browsing the web can eat up a lot of “bandwidth,” but I’m not sure how that fits into the 250MB data plan.

While I’m not a fan of AT&T and am holding out hope that Verizon or Sprint will offer the iPhone, I’m hesitant to commit to a two-year contract. My wife’s iPad, which only uses Wi-Fi, works perfectly for browsing the web and checking emails at home or in our city apartment.

I’m looking for the flexibility to use the internet beyond the reach of Wi-Fi hotspots. I don’t stream movies or TV shows, and I find watching videos online frustrating due to constant “buffering.” ABC News seems to be the worst offender.

My main uses would likely be checking emails, reading news sites, and occasionally checking the weather.

Thanks for all the great content on TUAW. I’ve been involved with computers since 1979, though I’m not quite at the “pro” level. I appreciate any insights you can provide on data usage.

Best regards,
Brian W.

Dear Brian,

Data consumption really varies from one person to another. Some users consume a lot of data by watching videos on YouTube, downloading various applications, and visiting data-heavy websites. Others might use their iPads more sparingly, mainly for checking emails and light browsing.

To understand how much data typical activities use, you might recall a previous TUAW post where we quickly went through a $10 5MB AT&T data feature plan package.

Back then, simple tasks like opening the Google homepage or watching a YouTube video used up significant data. Now, the 250MB plan offers fifty times more data, which is usable over 30 days.

It’s best to start with the 250MB plan to see how it suits your needs. Use your iPad as you normally would, without worrying about the data cap. This way, you can truly assess whether the 250MB is sufficient for your usage patterns.

Fortunately, the iPad will alert you when you’ve used 80% and 90% of your data, preventing any unexpected charges. If you find that the 250MB is enough for your monthly needs, then it’s a good fit.

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Michael Rose

Andrew is a dedicated writer for TUAW, your go-to Apple news blog. With a keen eye for detail and a love for all things Apple, Andrew brings you the latest updates on iPhones, iPads, MacBooks, and Apple Watches. His insightful articles and reviews help readers stay informed about the newest features and innovations. When he’s not writing, Andrew enjoys exploring new apps and testing out the latest Apple gadgets. His commitment to delivering accurate and engaging content makes him a valuable member of the TUAW team.