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Apple Tablets

Bell, Rogers, & Telus: Who has the best iPad data plan?

Telus finally got into the iPad 3G data game yesterday. I was initially intrigued, but in true Canadian fashion, Telus has found a way to make the plan brutal for consumers.

At first, it seemed as if Telus was shaking things up. 500MB for $20 is a much better deal than Rogers and Bell’s 250MB for $15, primarily because you can use up 250MB in a couple of hours of YouTube action on the iPad. But the devil is in the details. After you’ve used your 500MB with Telus, overage fees begin at five cents per megabyte. There is a cap as to how much you can pay, $50. When I heard this, I thought “This is a great deal, $50 for unlimited 3G internet in Canada,” but upon further inspection, you’ll find that  Telus caps usage at 5GB, giving it no advantage over Bell or Rogers.

Since it takes just another 600MB (1.1GB total) to reach $50, you’ll be at the Telus price cap very quickly. With Telus, you’ll reach $35 after only 800MB of total data. For the same $35, you’d get 5GB with Rogers or Bell. You’re paying $15 more than you would with Rogers or Bell for the same amount of data.

Surfing on the iPad is not at all like surfing on the iPhone. You’ll more often than not get the full version of websites, so browsing will eat into your data plans much quicker than they ever did on the iPhone. And because the iPad is so much faster than an iPhone, you’re loading more pages in the same amount of time.

Taking all of this into consideration, depending on what kind of user you are, you’ve got only one choice.

For people who won’t be using 3G often, and if you are good at keeping track of your data usage, Telus’ 500MB for $20 is a better deal than Rogers or Bell’s $15 offering. Telus says they will eventually come out with an iPad app to monitor your usage, so hang in there.

For heavy 3G data users, only the Bell and Rogers 5GB for $35 plans offer any value. Use 1.1GB of data with Telus and you’re at $50!

One other note: Telus charges a $35 activation fee, but gives you a month of free data. So you break even there.

Of course, if you’re a jailbroken iPhone, Android, or even Palm Pre phone owner, the best plan is to use a WiFi tethering app, like MyWi on jailbroken iPhones, to share your data plan between devices. And since you’re tethering over WiFi, there’s no need for you to buy the 3G version of the iPad, which costs $130 more. But if you like to be all legit, follow my advice above.