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3UK iPad SIMs beat the rest on contract tariffs

by Ben Smith on 25th May 2010

3 have announced they too will be selling iPad SIMs on a dedicated tariff, having reached an agreement with Apple…  It also looks like they’ll be the best value for most UK iPad 3G owners.

We’re not quite sure what kind of deal they needed to cut (“Can I sell SIMs for your product?” “Um, sure”) but whatever hoops needed jumping have been jumped.  The news does come as a bit of a surprise as 3UK CEO Kevin Russell had apparently been dismissive of the idea saying it was like “trying to sign a premiership footballer“, although there were clues when 3 Austria secured the device.

Here are the current tariffs available from Vodafone, Orange and O2:

iPad Tariffs from O2, Vodafone and Vodafone. Lines with a '1' show tariffs including access to commercial hotspots from providers such as BTOpenZone.

And here’s 3′s offering

3's iPad tariff... see those numbers? They're smaller. Nice.

So, if you want a 30-day contract for your iPad you’re probably better off going to 3 – their 1GB plan is cheaper than the others and even if you don’t need 10GB £15 is the next lowest tariff available from the others anyway. Admittedly, you don’t get any inclusive WiFi and local coverage may prompt you to look at the others, but 3′s coverage is ‘best’ for most.  Personally, I’ve plumped for the WiFi model in tandem with my existing MiFi unit, but this suits my ‘sofa surfing’ usage with only occasional trips out… why bother with pay-as-you-go?

We have seen some comments from people complaining Three (and the other networks) for pricing the iPad’s tariff above the rate for phones, but sitting it squarely between phone and mobile broadband pricing does seem fair to me… It certainly reflects my experience that I can consume far more data on an iPad than I can on, for example, an iPhone. Sure, you can slice up a SIM card, but for most people this is a reasonable price point without the scary blades…

Oh… and cue another round of speculation about an iPhone on 3.

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