2010 is really shaping up to be the year that smartphones and other 3G connected devices challenge the wireless carriers to come up with data plans that offer the right combination of price, bandwidth and stability.
When the iPad was announced last month, people reacted with shock over a number of its features (both the features it has as well as those it didn’t), but the big stunner was AT&T’s data packages for the 3G-capable versions of the iPad. A $30/month unlimited price point had analysts openly doubting how the carrier could make enough profit on iPad accounts but perhaps more importantly how they could avoid further degradation of their much-maligned network performance.
For Canadians, the question is whether any of our carriers will step up and offer a similar plan here. As of today, none have announced data plans for the iPad.
Somewhat buried by the iPad hoopla, was the launch of the new Palm Pre Plus smartphone in the U.S. The Pre Plus sports a number of improvements over the existing Pre, but the most intriguing of these is the ability to use the phone as a mobile hotspot.
A downloadable app gives Pre Plus users a quick and easy way to let up to 5 devices connect to the phone via Wi-Fi in order to leverage its 3G data connection. It’s a brilliant idea and I think every smartphone with Wi-Fi capability should come with a similar app. Tethering over a USB cable is awkward, and given the near ubiquity of Wi-Fi on laptops, netbooks, portable game consoles and media players, this is a technology whose time has come.
“Great,” you say, “but what’s the catch?” Well dear reader you’re right, there is a catch.
In the U.S., Verizon charges their customers an extra $40/month over and above whatever voice or data plan they take. That $40 isn’t even an unlimited rate. You get 5GB, then it’s 5 cents for every MB of overage.
No word yet on which carrier will have the Pre Plus up here in Canada, or how much they will charge for the Wi-Fi hotspot feature.