Apple opens more of its iPad kimono

If you’re in the USA, you can now pre-order an iPad, and Apple revealed more details of its plans for the device today.

The company has struck a deal with AT&T giving people access to 3G networking without having to sign a contract. On a support page on its site, Apple said that using wi-fi with 3G gives speeds of up to 7.2Mbps. If you sign up for a 3G account with AT&T, you can choose how much data you want buy – that’s either 250MB a month at $14.99 or unlimited data per month at $29.99.

Apple claims the machine will seamlessly switch between 3G and wi-fi, plus AT&T plans give access to over 20,000 wi-fi hotspots.

The AT&T and Apple deal doesn’t mean you have to have a contract, so you can just sign in for a month and then cancel. The iPad lets you sign up or sign off with AT&T at any time. Your machine will tell you when you’re getting close to the 250MB limit, and lets you open a cellular data plan so you can renew it.

Apple’s idea is quite interesting and does make it easy for you to pay for more bandwidth, that’s for sure. However, there are some drawbacks. A 3G USB dongle here in the UK costs around £20 a month or so for unlimited bandwidth.

But the bandwidth is not always 7.2Mbps and sometimes not even close to it. It all depends on where you are and how many other people are accessing the same frequency.