Verizon iPad-MiFi bundle lowers monthly data cost for heavy users

New iPad bundle is $10 less per month for 5GB of data compared with Verizon's current MiFi-only service

Verizon Wireless's new Apple iPad with MiFi bundle, announced Thursday and to be available on Oct. 28, will be a better deal for heavy data users because it costs $10 less per month for 5GB of data than Verizon's current MiFi-only service.

Currently, Verizon's MiFi device, which gives 3G cellular data access to five Wi-Fi devices including the iPad, can be purchased with two service plans, with Verizon's 5GB plan selling for $59.99 a month.

Verizon and Apple announced it will cost $20 for 1GB of data per month under the Verizon plan, but the cost per gigabyte drops to $35 for 3GB and $50 for 5GB, according to Verizon's online FAQ about the offer.

The FAQ also says that new Wi-Fi iPad tablets purchased from Verizon can be added to an existing MiFi plan as well.

"Nothing in the past has prevented people from using their MiFi 2200 with any Wi-Fi enabled device, including iPad," Verizon spokeswoman Brenda Raney said. "What is unique with this announcement is Verizon Wireless is embracing the combination and allowing customers to purchase the two devices at a bundle with great data pricing."

The deal with Apple to sell iPads in Verizon stores with MiFi starting Oct. 28 offers users 1GB of data use for $20 a month without any obligation to sign a service contract.

By comparison, AT&T charges less for iPad Wi-Fi + 3G with its month-to-month, no-obligation plan of $25 a month for 2GB. However, ATT's rate of $25 per month for 2GB is equal to $12.50 per GB, still $2.50 more per gigabyte than Verizon's 5GB plan at $50.

Verizon customers today can for $59.99 get 5GB on MiFi without a contract, but must pay $269.99 up-front for the MiFi device. That up-front device costs drops to zero if the purchase is made online with a two-year contract commitment to the MiFi service. (The device costs $119.99 for a commitment to a one-year service contract.)

If customers buy the iPad Wi-Fi + MiFi from Verizon, they pay almost exactly the same price as buying Wi-Fi + 3G models from AT&T. (That's $629.99 for the 16GB version from Verizon versus $629 from AT&T.)

Verizon is charging $129.99 more for each of its Wi-Fi + MiFi models over what Apple charges for Wi-Fi versions alone. (That's $629.99 for 16GB version from Verizon versus Apple's Wi-Fi only charge of $499. Verizon hasn't posted its prices for Wi-Fi-only iPads, which it says it will sell.)

To simplify, it costs almost $130 to support MiFi with a no-contract iPad Wi-Fi + MiFi from Verizon directly, or almost $270 for a MiFi device alone with no service contract.

Getting a one-year MiFi contract with a $119.99 up-front MiFi device charge might sound like a savings over the new iPad bundle offer, but at $10 a month savings for 5GB of data, that savings would be $120 a year, just $10 shy of the cost of $130 price for the difference to bundle MiFi with the iPad.

Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at  @matthamblen or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed. His e-mail address is mhamblen@computerworld.com.

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