Streaming Video on the New iPad Chews Through Data

For new iPad owners Brandon Wells and Albert Park, streaming content on their tablets is quicker than ever before thanks to the device’s compatibility with high-speed LTE networks. As both individuals have learned, however, the luxury comes at a cost… 

After wirelessly streaming the March Madness college basketball tournament for two hours, Wells discovered that he had reached his data limit based on his 2GB plan with Verizon Wireless. Since he wanted to continue watching basketball, Wells opted to pay a $10 overage fee for each additional gigabyte that he goes over his regular 2GB allowance.

“It’s kind of a Catch-22,” says Mr. Wells, a 31-year-old Web developer who decided to pony up for another gigabyte. “It streams really fast video, but by streaming really fast video you tend to watch more video, and that’s not always best … With LTE, the quality and the streaming is fantastic. But man, you’re really limited in terms of the amount of content you can consume.”

24-year-old Albert Parks, too, quickly realized just how costly streaming content on the new iPad can be. Parks had connected his new iPad to a Wi-Fi network at a local cafe in Austin, Texas, but decided to switch to AT&T’s faster LTE network because the wireless connection was too slow to keep up with the streaming video. After watching just one hour of concert videos and other clips on his tablet, Parks realized that he had already chewed through two-thirds of his three gigabyte data plan. Mr. Park said that he will likely no longer watch streaming video outside of his home.

With voice-calling revenues on the decline, mobile carriers such as AT&T and Verizon Wireless are relying on users to consume more data on their speedy LTE networks in order to increase their profits. Verizon’s network currently has the largest LTE coverage in the United States, reaching out to over 200 million customers, while AT&T is playing catch up and currently offers LTE service to roughly 74 million people. The U.S.’s third- and fourth-largest mobile providers in Sprint and T-Mobile respectively are also looking to offer their own LTE networks over the next few years despite not carrying the iPad.

[Wall Street Journal]

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