New iPad users finishing off data caps in hours?

Apple chose to incorporate the much awaited LTE connectivity feature in their new iPad this time. LTE, or Long Term Evolution, is a successor to 3G connections, where theoretical download speeds can almost surpass 2Megabytes per second. If you couple that with a content guzzling device like the iPad, you stand to make a mockery of basic data plans such as those with 2GB data caps.

via Wikimedia

In ideal connectivity conditions, a 2GB data cap can be finished off within 20 minutes, which is quite an issue when you consider that the data cap is meant to last a month. This cap happens to cost $30 (though AT&T provides 3GB data as compared to Verizon's 2), with additional usage chargeable at $10 per GB of data used.

With the advent of more and more streaming services and the ever diversifying oeuvres of the likes of Netflix and Youtube, 4G LTE and video streaming should be a match in heaven. However, videos are the primary culprits of data overuse among customers, and with the vivid Retina display of the new iPad, what you get is a vicious circle of more and more content consumption at ever increasing data costs.

The only way forward is for customers to start paying a lot, lot more for their data use, or for carriers like Verizon and AT&T to introduce newer and cheaper plans for 4G data. Verizon, for starters, has responded by asking customers to follow the former option, and get more expensive plans with greater data quotas. The other option they've come up with is for customers to shift data usage to WiFi networks.

The entire issue is quite a double edged sword for everyone involved. Customers have shelled out $600 or more for their 4G iPads, but if they're forced to use WiFi and be miserly about using LTE, the entire point of paying about $100 than a WiFi iPad is lost. On the other hand, the carriers have spent billions and billions of dollars to set up the requisite LTE infrastructure in the country. Their profits in voice calling have also been undercut by VoIP apps, etc. This makes the carriers desperate for LTE plans to compensate for losses in their other ventures, which makes the possibility of price cuts quite unlikely.


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