I bought this iPad primarily because Verizon offered no-contract, no commitment, month-to-month prepaid data plans for the iPad 3rd generation. Starting with the iPad 3rd generation, Verizon and Apple have wifi hotspot built-in as an option for iPad users. This lets me buy Verizon data for a month on my iPad 3rd generation, and I can then access email and the internet with my laptop, by using the Verizon cellular data coming through my iPad (which then functions as a wifi hotspot).
A second reason to buy an iPad 3rd generation with a Verizon modem is because "Verizon" iPads are unlocked. This means that you can use iPad 3rd generations and above with other carriers, such as AT&T and T-Mobile. You can take your iPad overseas, to Australia and Europe, buy a SIM card from a local carrier, and use your iPad in that country at that local carrier's low, prepaid rates. You do need to check the cellular frequencies of the iPad and see if local carriers in that country operate on those same frequencies. More on this in a future blog post.
In my experience, Verizon has the best cellular network in the United States. I've been able to get internet over Verizon's cellular signal in a place called Lumber City, Georgia -- which is pretty much as country as you can get these days. I could not get Sprint service or AT&T service there. I have a summer home on Puget Sound, and Verizon has the best signal there also.
I was pretty happy with this arrangement until this month. I tried to activate my Verizon account on my iPad, which I had last used back in December. I received this message:
Sorry, we cannot activate your device because the SIM card you are using...
Naively, I tried calling the number listed for a new SIM card. I was told by the Verizon agent that they could send me out a new SIM card, but it would cost me a $35 activation fee, and I would be locked into one of their postpaid plans. This was BS of the highest order! I will NEVER be locked into a cellular phone company's ridiculous two-year contracts ever again. If I am buying a data plan for my tablet, I'll be gosh-darned if I will pay an activation fee to buy a month of data.
Verizon's own web pages that discuss their prepaid tablet plans state the following:
No activation or reconnection fees and no overage charges. Prepaid Mobile Broadband Plans do not include Verizon Wi—Fi Access, Text Messaging or roaming. Prepaid Mobile Broadband Plan for Tablets are not available on all models.
I did some research on the Internet. I discovered that Apple sells these iPads, promising that buyers will get Verizon data access on their iPads on a month-to-month basis. Apple promises that buyers can stop and start their Verizon data access at any time. However, once a buyer activates his SIM card for the first time, then if he stops using that SIM card (and thus, the Verizon data access) for over five months -- then Verizon will no longer recognize the SIM card. The buyer is then forced to go to Verizon, who in 99% of the cases I am reading about (and which is my experience), will only sell buyers a new SIM card along with a postpaid, term plan requiring a $35 activation fee and a commitment of two years of data plan usage. Again, this is absolutely BS and it is downright fraudulent.
Apple's website for the iPads states the following:
No contract. No long-term commitment.This is from the web page at:
Here are some good links that discuss this problem:
I love this guy. He describes the problem that I have. He is very detailed, and he ended up suing Apple in small claims court and winning. He even got Apple to pay him for his trouble.
Here are some solutions that I found on forums and which I consider reasonably fair.
1. I think that Verizon should instantly mail you or give you a free SIM card if you ask for it, which will let you buy prepaid, no-commitment, monthly data plans at the original prices you were offered when you first purchased your iPad. Better yet, Verizon should not burn SIM cards in my iPad in the first place!
2. Some iPad users have bought Verizon SIM cards for $10 or less on Amazon or Ebay. But why should we have to do this when we purchased our iPads on the valid and reasonable assumption that we could sign up for, and cancel, Verizon cellular data service anytime we wanted to?
3. I personally went to an Apple Store, spoke to a genius at the Genius Bar, and he was kind enough to give me a Verizon SIM card for my iPad at no charge. Thanks, Gabe A. at the Genius Bar in the Apple Store in Del Monte Center. You were very helpful.