iPad Data Plan May Really Be Unlimited

When AT&T and Apple announced an optional “unlimited” iPad 3G data plan for $29.99 a month, skeptics assumed that it would come with all sorts of fine print and caveats designed to introduce some limits and block “data hogs” from eating up all of AT&T’s bandwidth. However, as one “torture test” confirms, the plan really does appear to be unlimited, which should be great news for early adopters who plan to use their iPads for Netflix or other streaming video services.

In the test, Zach Epstein at Know Your Cell downloaded more than 30GB of data over a two-day period.

In my first two days with the new iPad, I’ve pumped just about 31GB of data over AT&T’s 3G network. … my focus is on continuing heavy usage and ensuring that the unlimited data plan truly is unlimited.

If I can hit 100GB without being shut off by AT&T, I think it will be safe to say that users can consider the $29.99 iPad data plan to be “unlimited”. Considering I’m currently at six times the 5GB soft cap placed on smartphone data plans after just two days of usage, things are looking good.

Why did anyone doubt AT&T’s word in the first place? (No, you don’t have to answer that.) Among other reasons, because it sounded too good to be true in a market where most data plans have 5GB monthly caps. And, as we’ve pointed out more than once, many companies have their own idea of the definition of “unlimited.”

While Epstein may have proven that AT&T is using the term in its literal sense, the company has other ways to tell heavy data users that they’re unwelcome. AT&T’s standard Wireless Data Service Terms and Conditions prohibits a range of network-intensive activities including using “software or other devices that maintain continuous active Internet connections when a computer’s connection would otherwise be idle.” Customers whose “usage adversely impacts its wireless network or service levels” can be booted without notice. We don’t know if Epstein will fall afoul of those restrictions, but we’ll be watching closely.

Torture test: Is AT&T’s unlimited iPad 3G plan truly unlimited? [Know Your Cell]
Plan Terms [AT&T Wireless]

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