4G LTE iPad Users Go Through Data Plan Fast

March 21, 2012

In yesterday’s iPhone 5 feature article, we mentioned that 4G LTE  can be a tremendous power hog, with many Android 4G LTE users reporting that their device goes through the battery fast. Now it appears that 4G LTE also causes users to burn through their data plan fast–or at least that’s what has happened to some new iPad 4G LTE users.

According to the Wall Street Journal, a number of iPad 4G LTE users have reported that they went through their 4G LTE monthly data allowance fast. How fast? Well, in the case of iPad owner Brandon Wells, it took only 2 hours for him to go through his 2 GB Verizon 4G LTE plan.

Wells used his new iPad to watch a couple of NCAA turnament games and reached his data limit within 2 hours. Just as with smartphone data users, Wells will now have to pay $10 per GB over his limit or simply stop using data until his new month begins–in 25 days.


But Verizon iPad owners aren’t the only ones to go through their 4G LTE data plan fast. According to WSJ, a Texas man went through 2/3 of his 3GB per month 4G LTE data limit after watching just a couple hours of YouTube videos on his new iPad. Now he has to live on 1 GB of data for the rest of his 30 day billing cycle. Unless he wants to pay that $10 per GB cost, he, too, will have to restrict his data usage–or simply use his iPad on a Wi-Fi network only.

So why are iPad users burning through their data so quickly? There’s two things this can be attributed to. The first is the crazy fast speed of 4G LTE . If videos and other data load faster, it means there is more time to watch more and browse. That eats up data fast. Another reason for the fast data usage is that the iPad is a larger device–so things like YouTube videos and other streaming files tend to be larger in terms of size. More to download means more data used.

As with the overheating issues, neither Apple nor Verizon/AT&T have come out with any sort of comment to the press regarding this issue. Though if it becomes a widespread problem, we think Verizon/AT&T may just have to rethink their data limits.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

JoeShmoe99 March 21, 2012 at 4:27 pm

Here's what I don't understand about data limits. Does higher usage by users carry higher costs for the carriers? In other words, is the limitation on data done to keep down costs for the carriers or simply to make sure that not every single user is watching streaming television 24/7 and thereby slowing down the overall network? It seems that carriers incur costs when equipment is installed, but after that there is no more cost, whether each user uses 1gb or 100gb, except that if everyone used 100gb all the time then the carriers would need more equipment and higher bandwidth because users would complain that the network is slow. Amirite?


Michelle Canever March 22, 2012 at 12:03 am

Joe, that's an interesting question. From what I remember of researching the topic before, it's a little of both. The higher usage costs networks more money because it uses more of the network….and it also makes the network significantly slower for other users.


JoeShmoe99 March 22, 2012 at 1:51 pm

OK. That makes sense. This could also be an issue of internet access, meaning that the carriers have to pay for the bandwidth through which content is delivered. I'm not really sure how that works as, let's say, Verizon (and AT&T to some extent) is an internet provider, so they're paying their own affiliates in some instances. But still, they are separate entities.

Great job with the site btw! Read it twice a day. The i5 cannot come soon enough.


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