iPad Internet Options

by Anne Hirsh
Check 3G network compatibility before buying an iPad.

Check 3G network compatibility before buying an iPad.

All iPads work with Wi-Fi Internet connections, but beyond that you have other Internet options. Wi-Fi + 3G iPad models work with a designated cellular data network, either AT&T or Verizon, depending on the model you choose. IPads cannot connect to any wired Internet connection, such as an Ethernet or dial-up connection.

Wi-Fi Only

Wi-Fi Only iPads require a wireless Internet signal any time you want to access the Internet features, including the App Store, your email and the Maps app. You can connect to most public Wi-Fi hot spots with your iPad, assuming you have the password for password-protected connections. At home or your office, if you currently have only wired DSL, cable or satellite Internet, ask your service provider how to set up wireless Internet with your current service. Some providers have specific modem/router combination units you can use for easy setup. Otherwise, you will need a wireless router that connects to your modem. Once you configure and install the router, you can access the Internet from your iPad.

Wi-Fi + 3G AT&T;

First- and second-generation iPads come in AT&T-compatible; 3G models. When you are in an area without Wi-Fi, you can access the 3G data network run by AT&T.; You need an account with AT&T; to access its network, and usage charges apply. You can set up everything you need directly on the iPad. Launch the "Settings" app, touch the "Cellular data" option and follow the onscreen instructions to set up your account. Most accounts are approved in a few minutes, and then you can access the Internet via AT&T;'s network.

Wi-Fi + 3G Verizon

Only second-generation iPads come in Verizon-compatible models. The setup and operation of a Verizon cellular data account are the same as the AT&T; network setup. The difference between the two is that AT&T; uses a cellular data technology called HSDPA and Verizon uses an older technology called EVDO. The equipment for these two networks is not cross-compatible, so you can only access the Verizon network on your Verizon iPad, and only the AT&T; network on an AT&T; iPad.

Alternatives

Any device that converts cellular data signal to Wi-Fi signal can let you connect to the Internet with your iPad. For example, Verizon's mobile hotspot devices, Virgin's "Mi-Fi" devices and 3G broadband mobile hotspot apps for various smartphones all produce a Wi-Fi-compatible signal. These options may require purchasing equipment or signing up for specific data plans with mobile service providers, but they can extend the range of your iPad, especially if you have a Wi-Fi Only model you want to use on the go.

About the Author

Anne Hirsh has been writing and editing for over 10 years. She has hands-on experience in cooking, visual arts and theater as well as writing experience covering wellness and animal-related topics. She also has extensive research experience in marketing, small business, Web development and SEO. Hirsh has a bachelor's degree in technical theater and English and post-baccalaureate training in writing and computer software.

Photo Credits

  • photo_camera Lintao Zhang/Getty Images News/Getty Images