Apple's iPad 2 will launch tomorrow in Australia, with prices starting at $579 for the entry level 16GB Wi-Fi version. While everyone knows how much initial outlay the iPad 2 will require, how much does it cost to connect to the Internet?
For consumers purchasing a Wi-Fi only iPad 2, obtaining an Internet connection is a pretty simple affair. You simply connect the iPad 2 to your current wireless Internet connection at home, or in the office.
You obviously won't be able to browse the Web on a Wi-Fi-only version of iPad 2 if you are travelling away from a wireless hotspot; unless of course you own a smartphone that will allow you to share its 3G data connection, or you have a mobile broadband modem with Wi-Fi.
Smartphones that will allow you to share a mobile 3G connection include an iPhone updated to the latest iOS 4.3 software, or an Android phone like the HTC Desire HD which runs the 2.2 'Froyo' version of Google's Android platform. On the other hand, a mobile broadband modem with Wi-Fi allows multiple devices (such as an iPad 2) to connect to it for shared mobile broadband access over a telco's 3G network.
For consumers purchasing a Wi-Fi + 3G version of the iPad 2, obtaining an Internet connection is achieved by purchasing an iPad specific micro SIM card from either Telstra, Optus or Vodafone.
Telstra sells a prepaid SIM for the original Apple iPad which also works with the iPad 2. The prepaid SIM pack includes 3GB of data for $30. Telstra customers can then recharge their iPad 2 with the following data plans:
12GB: $150 (365-day expiry)
All data plans above are available without a contract but have a 30-day expiry, with the exception of the 12GB, $150 plan which has a 365 day expiry.
Optus offers both prepaid as well as BYO month-to-month iPad 2 data plans. The telco offers three month-to-month plans with no contract as follows:
For prepaid plans, an Optus prepaid iPad starter kit costs $30 and includes 3GB of data with a 30-day expiry. Optus also offers a $0 SIM starter kit which includes 500MB of data with a 20-day expiry, sold through stores including Harvey Norman, Dick Smith, Apple, David Jones, and Myer.
Optus prepaid recharges start $15 for 300MB of data with a 15-day expiry and range up to $130 for 15GB of data with an expiry of 12 months. Other prepaid Optus options include $20 (1GB/30 day expiry), $30 (4GB/30 day expiry), $40 (5GB/60 day expiry), $50 ($6GB/60 day expiry), $70 (7GB/3 month expiry), $80 (8GB/6 month expiry), and $100 (10GB/6 month expiry).
VHA (Vodafone Hutchison Australia)
Like Optus, Vodafone offers both prepaid as well as BYO month-to-month iPad data plans, which also work with the iPad 2. The telco offers four month-to-month plans with no contract as follows:
For prepaid users, Vodafone offers a $15 iPad prepaid starter pack which includes 1.5GB of data with a 30-day expiry. The telco then offers six prepaid data plans for the iPad and iPad 2, as follows:
250MB: $9.95 (30 day expiry)
1GB: $14.95 (30 day expiry)
4GB: $29.95 (30 day expiry)
6GB: $100 (180 day expiry)
10GB: $49 (30 day expiry)
12GB: $150 (365 day expiry)
Vodafone previously offered an unlimited data plan with 30-day expiry for $49.95, but replaced this with the $49, 10GB plan in March.
3, which is owned and operated by VHA in Australia, offers both dedicated prepaid and monthly data plans for iPad and iPad 2 tablets. The telco has a smaller range of prepaid data plans, but offers "bonus data" each time customers recharge. The plans are are follows:
500MB+1GB: $15 (30 day expiry)
2GB+2GB: $29 (30 day expiry)
4GB+2GB: $49 (30 day expiry)
12GB: $149 (365 day expiry)
3 says any "bonus data" will not be available immediately upon recharge but will be credited to an account and available for use within 48 hours of a recharge.
All Vodafone and 3 iPad 3G data plans include a free micro SIM starter pack and conveniently, if you recharge before the end of the credit expiry period any unused data will be rolled over to the next month — provided you don't exceed the maximum balance of 14GB.
In addition to prepaid plans, 3 mobile also offers two month-to month iPad plans: