As Apple gears up to release the 3G version of their new tinker toy, the iPad, one of the big selling points (according to them) is that the iPad will be available with 3G service for about $30 per month through AT&T without a contract. AT&T now stands to make even more money than they're making now, which they said in a press release yesterday was a record high.
Gizmodo reported yesterday that AT&T made over $800 million in wireless data revenue last quarter, and posted AT&T's press release to prove it. Considering that AT&T's wireless data networks are now dangerously close to overloaded, this is great news for the company, but bad news for customers. As more and more subscribers get on the satellites, the slower AT&T's 3G coverage will become, which is like getting less for your money.
Add to that the fact that techies everywhere are either frothing or scoffing (with a willingness to buy) at the iPad, and you're looking at yet another surge in subscribers come March. Unless Apple releases the iPad without 3G support, as may well be the case with the starting model priced at $499 and rumored to be available only with WiFi, there will likely be hundreds of thousands of new 3G devices added to AT&T's networks, and these devices are pretty data-heavy.
Despite skepticism by tech bloggers about AT&T's commitment to making their wireless data coverage powerful enough to handle such a userbase, AT&T is promising that they will spend $2 billion to bolster their already dominant network. This includes more HSPA service, which the iPhone 3GS runs on now. Personally, I've been with AT&T for years and never had a problem with their data service, but I understand the concerns being expressed. Do you use AT&T? What's your opinion on the overloaded network? Let us know in the comments.