Does an iPad Require a Monthly Internet Cost?
By Starr Kang
To use many of the iPad's features, such as email, iCloud or maps, you need access to Wi-Fi or 3G connectivity. Additionally, Wi-Fi could be required to download large documents, including movies, multimedia and other extremely large files. It's possible to use your iPad only at a coffee shop, library, restaurant or other location that provides Wi-Fi and not purchase a plan, but you need to consider whether or not it's worth the inconvenience.
Apple sells iPads that allow only Wi-Fi connectivity and models that allow both W-Fi and cellular connectivity. The Wi-Fi-only model requires an Internet connection to access websites, certain apps and email, while the Wi-Fi + Cellular model can connect with either an Internet connection or a cellular data plan. As of September 2012, cellular plans are available through Verizon or AT&T.
To connect to the Internet while at home, you need to purchase either a Wi-Fi model and an Internet plan or a Wi-Fi + cellular model and a monthly Internet or cellular plan. If you purchase a monthly Internet plan, you'll be able to connect multiple devices, including computers, iPads and iPhones, to the Internet for a single fee using a modem and router. If you purchase a cellular plan, you'll be required to pay a separate fee for each device you connect, although you may receive a discount if you're connecting multiple devices, such as an iPad and an iPhone.
The area in which you live determines with which providers you can purchase Internet service. People living in large cities typically have the greatest array of options, while individuals living in rural areas may only have a single Internet provider in their areas. Regardless of which provider you select, you'll pay a higher monthly cost for fast connection speeds. Some Internet providers allow you to pay a discounted rate if you buy a combination of television, Internet and phone service, so check with a current cable television or cellular service provider to see if they offer discounted Internet rates.
Cellular Data Plans
If you're looking to purchase cellular service, which allows you to access the Internet anywhere a 3G or 4G network connection exists, you'll be required to purchase a cellular data plan. You can purchase a cellular data plan from AT&T or Verizon. You can buy a 3G plan in addition to an Internet plan or purchase only a data plan.
AT&T offers three cellular data plans, depending on how much data you use each month. As of September 2012, you can buy a 250MB plan for $14.99, but if you exceed your allotment you'll pay $14.99 for each additional 250MB of data you use. You can also purchase 3GB for $30 per month and 5GB for $50 per month, with an overage fee of $10 for each additional gigabyte used. With the purchase of a plan, you gain free access to AT&T Wi-Fi Hot Spots.
Verizon offers Share Everything plans, which provide a shared data pool to all your cellular devices. You can purchase 4GB of data for $30 per month, 6GB of data for $40 per month, 8GB of data for $50 per month or 10GB of data for $60 per month, as of September 2012. If you exceed your allotted data, you'll pay $15 per 300MB. Additionally, you'll need to pay $10 per tablet you connect to the plan each month and higher fees for other devices you connect to the plan.