Verizon Wireless will start selling the Apple iPad packaged with a separate mobile Wi-Fi portable hotspot device on Oct. 28 at 2,000 Verizon stores, the carrier and Apple announced Thursday.
Verizon will only offer iPad and Wi-Fi + MiFi mobile hotspot versions for access over Verizon's cellular 3G network. With MiFi, users will have to carry a MiFi 2200 Intelligent Mobile Hotspot pocket-sized device along with the iPad. MiFi will function as a personal Wi-Fi hot spot to deliver Internet connectivity over cellular for the iPad and up to four other Wi-Fi-ready devices.
Verizon will not be selling an iPad that runs on its CDMA network directly. It plans to charge $20 a month for 1GB of data via MiFi.
Separately, AT&T will begin to carry iPad Wi-Fi + 3G models in 2,200 stores on the same day, with a data plan starting at $14.99 a month, AT&T and Apple announced.
Verizon Wireless Chief Operating Officer John Stratton called the iPad a "perfect pairing [with] the nation's largest and most reliable 3G data network."
Apple iPhone users for years have wondered when Verizon would begin to offer its network for use with the iPhone, noting connection problems over AT&T's network. Thursday's announcement shows that using Verizon's network, with 92 million customers, is clearly a priority for Apple, even if so far it is only extended to the iPad tablet via a MiFi device.
Many analysts believe Verizon will start carrying the iPhone early next year.
"We're thrilled to be working with Verizon Wireless to get iPad into the hands of even more customers this holiday season," Tim Cook, Apple's COO said in a statement. "iPad allows users to connect with their apps and content in a more intimate, intuitive and fun way than ever before, and together with Verizon Wireless we're offering an easy way to stay connected wherever you go."
Cook also said in a separate statement that he was "very happy" to see AT&T selling iPad Wi-Fi+3G in AT&T stores.
The MiFi unit from Verizon comes with a rechargeable battery that provides up to four hours of use and 40 hours of standby time on a single charge. It is already for sale by Verizon for $99.99 and a two-year contract to connect to five Wi-Fi devices, although it has not been marketed explicitly as a connection for the iPad .
A user can already buy a MiFi device and monthly network service over Verizon and connect to an iPad. Verizon's ability to actually sell iPads in its stores with Apple 's backing is new.
An AT&T online service rep today said that iPad Wi-Fi users can now get MiFi for free with a two-year contract for service. One of the current plans costs $39.99 a month for 250 MB of data; the other costs $59.99 a month for 5GB of data.
Verizon is pricing the iPad with Wi-Fi+MiFi at $629.99 for the 16GB version; $729.99 for the 32GB and $829.99 for the 64GB.
AT&T will charge 99 cents less for each of the models that run Wi-Fi + 3G: $629, $729 and $829.