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Why Apple stuck with AT&T for iPad; and will it work?

January 27, 2010 05:48 PM ET

Presumably, Cook was setting the stage for the company's response to similar questions from potential iPad buyers.

Today's Apple iPad press release notes that the 3G version of the iPad is equipped to handle wireless speeds of 7.2Mbit/sec. over HSDPA. AT&T has been rushing to upgrade its 3G networks to the HSDPA 7.2 standard, with plans to roll it out in 25 cities in 2010.

However, AT&T still won't say whether any of those cities support 7.2 standard yet, or precisely when they will. Also, analysts have noted that 7.2Mbit/sec. is still theoretical throughput and actual speeds may be much lower.

Can the iPad really view streaming video and run other bandwidth-hungry apps over 3G, or will users of those applications have to rely on Wi-Fi connections that feed into fat pipes to the Internet?

Answer: Several analysts are unsure what the answer to that question will be. Video will likely stream to the iPad over 3G, as it does today with the iPhone ,"but the quality most likely will be low over cellular," Redman noted. Jack Gold, an analyst at J.Gold Associates, agreed with Redman.

Redman added that high-definition video quality "may be restricted to Wi-Fi just because that would make the user experience so much better than over 3G."

Nobody is really sure how well AT&T's HSDPA 7.2 will work, or how widely available it will be in April, when the 3G versions of the iPad ship.

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

Read more about Wireless Carriers in Computerworld's Wireless Carriers Topic Center.



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