iPad 3G UK: Carrier choice, lots of questions

Posted on by Mike Evans

On Friday I asked both Vodafone and O2 if they had news on the availability of the micro-SIM cards and, also details of contracts for the iPad. Both said they had absolutely nothing to say, but that there would be an announcement on May 28 when the iPad officially launches in the UK.

Today, however, Apple themselves have leaked pricing for three major networks in the UK - O2, Orange and Vodafone. There are some interesting differences and Vodafone looks to be the least competitive. This is not true to form and I suspect there will be changes before the launch.

O2, the original iPhone carrier for the UK, is offering 500MB per day for £2, 1G per month for £10 and 3GB a month for £15. Orange want £2 per day for a measly 200MB, £7.50 per week for 1GB, £15 per month for 3GB or £25 per month for 5GB. Vodafone, surprisingly, intends to charge £10 a month for a ludicrous 250MB or £25 a month for 5GB. While the 5GB price is par for the course, it's surprising to find no £15 rate for 3GB (as I currently pay them). Unless Vodafone has a massive rethink between now and the end of the month I cannot see many people choosing their network. It's a pity, because I think Vodafone's network is generally faster and more available than offerings from the competition. Presumably there will be an upfront charge for the SIM. Judging by current schemes for standard SIMs, this is likely to be between £20 and £25.

What is interesting is that all are following AT&T's American lead in offering monthly (or even shorter) arrangements and it seems clear that there will be no attempt to tie in subscribers for 12 months or, even, 24 months as is the case the laptop pricing structures.

This morning I arrived in Switzerland and was surprised and delighted to find Swisscom had micro-SIM cards in stock. For 19 francs (about £11.50) you buy the SIM and then enjoy a daily rate of no more than 7.50 francs (about £4.50) for unlimited data. This is an excellent deal for occasional visitors and I would have taken one had it not been for the fact that I had just topped up my current Swisscom pay-as-you-go standard SIM contract. I'm currently using this SIM in my MiFi (which gives internet service to both iPad and iPhone) but will upgrade on my next visit to the country.

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