An AT&T representative has set the record straight on the upcoming iPad 3G’s monthly data limit, and the news is good for potential iPad owners who plan to stream tons of video over 3G.
When Apple CEO Steve Jobs said the iPad would have an “unlimited” 3G plan at the product’s unveiling, a lot of observers were skeptical that he was sincer. The AT&T rep said that the iPad’s $30-a-month unlimited 3G plan is truly unlimited, reports Gearlog. AT&T is also offering a $15-a-month plan that is capped at 250 megabytes — an offering which may still appeal to casual users.
The skepticism emerged after some users complained that AT&T was imposing a so-called “soft cap” on data usage above 5 gigabytes for some iPhone users with a purportedly “unlimited” data plan. The news further cements the iPad as a device made for consuming media. Now you can stream YouTube videos and Pandora songs over 3G as much as you want without penalty.
It’s unclear if this also means that Apple will still force certain iPad applications not to function over 3G like it has for some iPhone applications. Apple has recently relaxed some iPhone app restrictions over 3G — VoIP apps can now function over 3G (Skype is currently updating its app to take advantage of 3G), as well as video broadcasting apps like Qik and uStream — so I suspect that it may avoid similar restrictions with the iPad.
Engadget recently tested the Netflix iPad app using a Wi-Fi only iPad connected to a Verizon MiFi 3G device — something which connects multiple wireless devices to Verizon’s 3G data network — and found that the video quality still looked pretty good. I would expect similar quality with the upcoming iPad 3G on AT&T’s network.
The unlimited bandwidth announcement is good news for consumers, but I’m sure AT&T’s already-fragile wireless network in major cities like New York and San Francisco won’t take too kindly to tons of iPads sucking down video content indiscriminately. It’s the second bone that AT&T has thrown to iPad users — the first being the iPad 3G’s contract-free data plans. I’m just hoping that AT&T doesn’t forget about the improvements it needs to make for iPhone users as well.