4G/LTE Verizon Performance for a Wifi Only iPad 2

Discussion in 'iPad Carriers' started by jsh1120, Oct 11, 2011.

  1. jsh1120
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    jsh1120 iPad Addict

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    Just a brief report on the data use for my iPad 2. Because I need internet access for my laptop when I'm traveling and there is no wifi available, I have a mobile hotspot from Verizon (Samsung SCH-LC11). Upgrading from a previous netbook I paid $49 for the mifi unit, about the size of a playing card and 1/4 inch thick. (I upgraded at the end of a contract so I received a $50 credit. Otherwise, the hotspot would have cost me $99).

    I pay $50 per month on a two-year contract for 5 gigabytes of downloaded data with an additional $10 per gigabyte up to $80 per month for unlimited access. Since I have the hotspot contract in place, it made no sense to pay for an additional 3G data plan for the iPad. (I don't happen to need GPS functionality in the iPad, but if I did, I could have that functionality in the wifi iPad for an additional $100 purchase of a GPS unit that connects to the iPad.)

    Had I purchased a 3G iPad, I would have paid an additional $130 and could have had a 2 gigabytes per month contract for $30 per month with the same $10 for each additional gigabyte, but no $80 ceiling. Further, I could turn off the 3G coverage for any 30 day period I didn't use it at all.

    I've never used more than 5 gigabytes per month on the mobile hotspot since I'm typically at my home where I use the wifi network there. But in order to get an idea of how much data I would actually consume with the iPad I've left it connected to the 4G/LTE Verizon network for much of the last couple of weeks and tracked the amount of data consumed and the performance of the mobile hotspot.

    On the performance side...

    () My iPad typically shows downloads between 6000 and 10,000 kb/p/s(Kilobytes per second) with occasional speeds of up to 14,000kb/p/s when I'm in a 4G/LTE service area. This is approximately 3-8 times faster than the equivalent performance of my 3G smartphone at the same location.

    () I should note, by the way, that while the 4G/LTE performance is much, much faster than 3G, it's not usually nearly as noticeable as the performance numbers might suggest. Browser performance is noticeably snappier and lags from buffering are almost non-existent on 4G, but for streaming audio and video, 3G speeds are usually acceptable. Likewise for web browsing. Still, 4G performance is addictive and the more I use it, the more impatient I am with anything less.

    () It also bears noting that 4G is a significant battery drain on the mobile hotspot. Running on battery continuously connected to a 4G network will exhaust the hotspot in about 4-5 hours. Connection to 3G will get another 1-2 hours of battery life. Neither of these figures is especially impressive compared to an iPad, but I usually have a wall socket handy when I'm using the hotspot so it's irrelevant in those cases.

    On the data use side...

    () I've done occasional video streaming, updated about 30 apps, and almost continuous audio streaming for about 10-12 hours per day over the couple of weeks. Total data usage is nearly 2 gigabytes for the period. Extrapolating that usage for a full month, I would use about 4 gigabytes per month if I relied exclusively on the mobile hotspot for the iPad. Since I wouldn't exceed the 5 gigabytes maximum for my data plan, the cost would be the minimum $50. If I were using an iPad data plan, however, the cost for the 4 gigabytes would be the same ($30 base price + $20 overage.) And if I exceeded 4 gigabytes by a single byte, the cost would rise to $60.

    I'm not citing these figures to argue one way or the other for Verizon or for a mobile hotspot versus a 3G iPad. AT&T and Sprint prices for mobile hotspots and monthly data plans are slightly different but not by a significant amount. Likewise, Verizon's 4G/LTE network is more widespread and faster than AT&T's, but an individual user's experience may be quite different from the "average." And if a user needs 3G access less frequently (i.e. not at all for at least 30 days), the cancel/reinstate provisions of the iPad data plan may be considerably more economical than a continuous two year plan. Finally, of course, if one never exceeds 2 Gigabytes per month, the iPad data plan is also significantly less expensive.

    Nevertheless, if one wants 4G service, these figures should provide some guidance.
  2. ipad2tyro
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    ipad2tyro iPF Noob

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    Great post! I just joined the forum today, haven't yet bought my ipad2, and need info of all kinds. I'm in FL now (very good AT&T phone service), but will be moving to MO (you know, that big black hole in the center of the US). For tv and pc we'll have satellite service, something else I know nothing about. I assume we'll get home wifi via satellite. The area is so rural that wifi spots are few and very far between, so if we have AT&T coverage I guess we should get 3G. Also, two gigabytes a month sounds like a lot to me, but what uses so much? Downloading movies? What about just watching them? Do apps use much space? Should I get the 16G or 32G ipad? Sorry to ask so many questions, but I was impressed with your post.
  3. jsh1120
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    jsh1120 iPad Addict

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    First, you need to distinguish between space needed on your iPad versus data traffic.

    Reasons for getting a 16 Gig iPad:

    () Save $100.
    () Intending to save only apps, a small music collection, (200-300 songs), some photos (maybe 100) and a couple of movies.


    Reasons for getting a 32 Gig iPad:

    () Many apps, a substantial music collection, lots of photos, and more than a couple of movies.
    () Not having to worry about and manage "space" on your iPad.

    Now, as far as data is concerned...

    () If you can avoid getting satellite internet service, do so. My impression from friends who have it is that it's both slow and flakey. Even if you're in a rural area you may be able to get broadband service via a cable provider or more likely via your land line phone provider.
    () Only as a last resort should you try to use cellular service (3G) as your primary internet provider. But if you're using satellite for internet you may use more 3G
    () Two gigabytes per month from a cellular provider will be plenty if all you do is surf the web, look at YouTube videos from time to time, and handle email. And if you have broadband service that enables you to use wifi for your iPad most of the time, 2 gigs will be easily enough.

    Keep in mind that when you stream audio or video to your device, you're not storing the data but you are using your monthly data allowance. Hope that helps.
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2011
  4. ipad2tyro
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    ipad2tyro iPF Noob

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    Oh, helps very much! Really appreciate your time.

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