Updated: iPad 3G data – all the options

Xavier Verhoeven
26 May, 2010
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With the iPad launch only days away, all four major telcos have now officially announced their iPad plans (Virgin has not yet announced its plans).

Apple has also put up a dedicated 3G page for the iPad, outlining some of the plans and process of setting up the new device. Most importantly, the company has announced that carriers are offering no-contract data plans, which appears to be the norm: “you can activate 3G service anytime after installing the micro-SIM card; some plans can even be activated right on the iPad,” the website states. “Micro-SIM cards are available directly from carriers; contact your carrier for details.”

And in its four-step ‘how to get 3G service for your iPad’ section, it notes that activation is possible using the “on-device activation process (where available)” – meaning at least some carriers should offer the integrated data information where the amount of used quota is easily available on the iPad.


Telstra was first to announce its plans – which are all pre-paid at this stage, though post-paid options could be introduced at a later date.

All plans have a 30-day expiry period, and do not require a contract. The ‘Pre-Paid SIM for Apple iPad Kit’ costs $30 initially, and comes with 1GB of data. However, if users activate their kit by 30 June 2010, they will receive an additional 2GB free. Telstra has also confirmed that unused pre-paid credit will rollover for an extra 30 days, provided you purchase another data pack within the initial 30 day period.

Ongoing monthly pricing is:

• $20 for 1GB
• $30 for 3GB
• $60 for 6GB
• $80 for 9GB
• $100 for 12GB

Compared to Telstra’s recently announced post-paid data pack updates, where $20 only buys you 500MB of data, the iPad plans look to be reasonably good value.

The kits will be available from Telstra Stores and selected partners, and customers can recharge using BPAY, or buy recharge vouchers from the following stores: Telstra, Australia Post, Target, Big W, Dick Smith, Leading Edge Telecoms, WOW sight and sound, Woolworths, Safeway, Coles Fone Zone, K Mart, Retravision and Newslink.

Telstra’s dedicated iPad page allows you to register your interest for the plans, but offers no further insight.

As of Tuesday, Telstra has been selling its 3G Micro-SIM starter kits in its stores.


Optus has announced a full range of pricing, with pre-paid, post-paid and business plans available.

The pre-paid plans rely on a $30 SIM Starter Kit, which includes 2GB of data (plus 1GB bonus until 30 September). Recharge amounts are available from $15 to $130, for 500MB to 14GB of data, respectively.

See the full details below:

Optus has announced that it will let customers ‘rollover’ their excess data, so long as they recharge within the designated times above, from the ‘same recharge family’. What exactly do they mean by recharge family? Well, those valid for 15 days are the first family, those valid for 30 or 60 days are another, and the 8GB 186 option is out on its own. If you recharge a $70 9GB pack within 60 days with a $30 3GB pack, for example, you will then have the remains of the first pack for the next 30 days. The rollovers can continue for up to six months. If you recharge from a different ‘family’, however, any unused data will be lost.

Optus also has SMB (small-medium business) plan options for the iPad. The plans include bonus rebates for customers who sign up for a 12 month plan with their own Optus approved BYO device (such as the iPad). Further rebates are available for those bundling with a phone plan. See the table below for all the details:

You can check out Optus’ iPad page for further information.


Vodafone has also announced a range of pre-paid plans. Its offerings begin at $9.95, which gets you 250MB of data to last you 30 days. The plans range up to a $150 pack with 12GB of data that lasts a year.

The full details are as follows:

According to the Vodafone website, unused included data will be rolled over, “provided you do not exceed the maximum balance of 14GB”.

There is no information available on whether Vodafone will offer post-paid plans.


Three has also announced its iPad plans. Three is offering a free Micro-SIM starter kit (50c shipping, includes 100MB-200MB of bonus data if activated over the phone or online) for its pre-paid plans. Post-paid options will also be available when the iPad launches.

The pre-paid plan pricing is:

• $15 for 500MB
• $29 for 2GB
• $49 for 4GB
• $149 for 12GB

All packs expire in 30 days, except for the $149 option which lasts a full year.The $15, $29 and $49 packs also include bonus data of 1GB, 2GB, 2GB respectively.

Post-paid, or month-by-month, pricing is $15 for 1GB or $29 for 3GB. Additional data is charged at 2c per MB. Post-paid plans will also come with 500MB or 1GB of bonus data, respectively.

It’s unclear how long Three’s bonus offers are available.


Having been left off the list on the Apple website, Virgin Mobile’s plans for the iPad are less clear than the other telcos.

I spoke to Daniel Woodall, head of product marketing for Virgin Mobile Australia, who confirmed Virgin will not have iPad plans available at launch, but did not rule out offering Micro-SIMs in the future.

At this stage, Virgin is suggesting iPad buyers purchase its Pocket WiFi Modem, which for $149, is less than the difference between the Wi-Fi and Wi-Fi + 3G iPad models. Woodall also noted that the Pocket WiFi Modem is the most flexible choice as it can be used with any number of other devices. Similarly, the modem can be placed for best 3G reception and its WiFi signal used somewhere more comfortable.

The WiFi Modem comes with 3GB of included data, and can be used with a range of pre-paid and post-paid plans (some of the latter include the modem for free). Check the Virgin Broadband prices page for details. Woodall also noted that Virgin’s plans mean ‘bill shock’ is impossible: when you reach your limit, Virgin gives you an extra 250MB (at reduced speed), and gives you the option to buy extra data, so you know exactly how much you’re spending.

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