Prepare to keep your iPad connected on the cheap

If the million-plus sales of Apple’s iPad south of the border is any indication, many Canadians will be chomping the bit to pre-order the “magical” tablet computer May 10.

Apple is saying it will ship the devices to the Great White North May 28. There will be two versions available – the cheaper Wi-Fi version (starting at $549) and a more expensive Wi-Fi and 3G version (starting at $879). Canadian pricing details haven’t been released yet.

No matter what version you buy, you’re going to want to keep it connected to the Internet as much as possible. After all, this is a gadget that Apple bills as “the best way to experience the web” and many applications will require an Internet connection to be useful, not to mention access to iTunes and the App Store.

Here’s some options to keep that iPad connected to the iNternet:

3G wireless data plans

Wireless data plans in Canada are better suited for receiving e-mail and some light Web-browsing on a smartphone than a rich multimedia experience of the iPad. Too much time spent streaming YouTube videos or downloading Apps over a 3G connection could land Canuck iPad users in the poor house.

But Rogers Wireless announced today its iPad-specific pricing plans. The firm said it would offer “iPad price plans for all model from the end of May” on April 14, and has now released the actual numbers. For 250 MB of data a month, iPad users will shell out $15. For 5 GB a month, it’ll cost $35. You can register to learn about the data plans with Rogers.

In the U.S., AT&T offers a $14.99 plan for 250 MB of monthly data and a $29.99 plan for unlimited data.

Also worth noting is that if Rogers can offer wireless data for the iPad, then Bell Mobility and Telus Mobility will theoretically be able to do the same. Though the companies haven’t announced any plans yet, their HSPA networks work on the same wireless band as Rogers.

WiFi hotpsots

For the more frugal variety of tech-heads, the WiFi only version of the iPad means reduced sticker shock and a much less expensive total cost of ownership. If you go this route, a little digging will reveal a surprising number of free or cheap WiFi access points that will keep you connected. Let’s use Toronto as an example.

One Zone High Speed Internet is a broadband wireless network that covers the entire downtown core. Operated by Cogeco Data Services, the network covers six square kilometers smack-dab in the middle of the city. One Zone announced May 6 that it would allow iPad users access to the network for a mere $5 per month. It’s the same plan currently offered to iPhone and iPod Touch users. Not bad if you live or work in the area.

Wireless Toronto offers a free, if more haphazard, alternative. The not-for-profit community group has declared its mandate to provide as much free wireless access as possible to Toronto’s public areas. All the hotspots are offered freely by a willing sponsor and maintained by a community of volunteers. Although it’s less cohesive than One Zone, there are free hot spots scattered across the Greater Toronto Area.

The list of free WiFi access doesn’t stop there. A myriad of restaurants, cafes, public spaces and businesses also offer Internet access. For a decent list of hot spots to try across Canada, visit the WiFi Free Spot directory.

Your own portable WiFi hotspot

This is perhaps the least convenient way to connect your iPad to the Internet, but it’s still doable. If you’re in a pinch, you might just try this. You can create your own ad-hoc WiFi network using a cell phone or a laptop and a mobile data stick.

Free application PdaNet is available for iPhone, Android, BlackBerry, and Windows Mobile and Palm OS. Think of it as “tethering for dummies”, this turns your smartphone into a wireless router to allow your laptop (and now your iPad) to connect to the Internet.

Use your laptop to set up an ad-hoc computer-to-computer network if it has an Internet connection you’d like to acess with your iPad. If you’re on the go, you could use a mobile Internet stick from your cell phone carrier. This is also useful if you have only a wired connection to plug into your laptop, but want to use Internet on your iPad.

Follow Brian Jackson on Twitter.

Brian Jackson
Brian Jackson
Editorial director of IT World Canada. Covering technology as it applies to business users. Multiple COPA award winner and now judge. Paddles a canoe as much as possible.

Would you recommend this article?


Thanks for taking the time to let us know what you think of this article!
We'd love to hear your opinion about this or any other story you read in our publication.

Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

Featured Download

Blogger Spotlight

Latest Blogs

ITB in your inbox

Our experienced team of journalists and bloggers bring you engaging in-depth interviews, videos and content targeted to IT professionals and line-of-business executives.