Cell-enabled Tablets: Threat to the Network?

Everyone is expecting the expected 7.85-inch iPad Mini will do everything the traditional 9.7-inch iPad can do – Web surfing, book reading, game playing, movie watching. But what will it do to the cellular network?

The cellular-enabled iPad didn’t have much impact — it was too expensive. An LTE-enabled iPad currently costs $629 from Verizon’s, and $629 from AT&T.

ABI says of the 65 million tablets shipped last year, only 27 percent or 17.6 million, featured support for 3G and 4G networks. The $199 Nexus 7 didn’t have any impact on cellular networks. It’s a WiFi-only device. For now.

Google may have sold about 1 million Nexus 7 tablets in the third quarter, while Apple is predicted to sell 5 million of the smaller iPads in the current quarter.

The 7″ tablets will inevitably get cellular connections. They will be a lot cheaper ($250-$300). They will be data hogs. They will consume 3-4X more data than smartphones. They may bring cellular networks down.

If the iPad Mini and Nexus 7 provide cellular connectivity at half the previous prices of 10″ tablets, then the cellular network is going to be in trouble. Cellular companies will need to raise prices because they won’t be able to satisfy the data demand.

U.S. consumers under contracts typically spent $115 a month for 3G service, while in the Netherlands, the average was $51; in Britain, $59.

Owners of the new iPad with LTE must pay dearly for their LTE connection. But Amazon’s LTE-enabled Kindle Fire HD has a $50/year deal for 250 MB/month which also includes: 20GB of additional Cloud Drive storage.

Microcell networks are one solution. Anyone who hopes to sell devices or ads, like Apple and Google, may have to come to the aid of network dinosaurs. Soon.

Posted by Sam Churchill on .

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