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iPad international 3G plan sucks

When I went abroad for the first time while owning an iPad, I decided to try out AT&T international 3G plan.

The verdict: Never again, it’s a waste of money.

The plan is supposed to be for a full month, but the data allowances are ridiculously un-balanced towards minuscule amounts for a lot of money. The most “generous” plan, allowing 200 MB, costs $200. The cheapest option, at $25, gives you only 20 MB.

With my normal daily routine in the US, I use up around 150 MB per week on my iPad. That includes reading blogs, checking emails, communicating with friends via chat and messaging, checking Facebook and other social sites, etc. I figured if I only were to look through my inbox, open an occasional important email, and use a few websites for tourist orientation stuff, I might be able to stretch 20 MB over 5-6 days. So I bought the cheapest option.

In less than 48 hours after landing in Madrid, my allowance was two-thirds depleted. In that time, I sent a handful text messages to my kids on iPad apps, looked through my inbox twice, opened one single email, and checked two restaurant websites. The next day, the balance went to zero with not a single additional browse or load action from me. All of those 20 megs must have been eaten by whatever “roaming” iPad was doing when the roaming switch was not turned off (but when I did turn it off I could not do any browsing, so I had to remember to turn it off after using the iPad, which I actually only remembered to do once).

Not happy about that.

I would be better off not paying AT&T a dime and relying instead on random Wi-Fi hotspots and much-less-random Starbucks.