Thursday, June 24, 2010

iPad Unlimited

Spurred largely by AT&T's announcement that the unlimited data plan would be dropped from their available iPad connection options, I went ahead and ordered one before the cut-off date of June 7th. Earlier this week, it finally arrived on my door step, seemingly no worse for wear following it's long, long journey from Shenzen where doubtless small bands of happy elves, living in a forest full of honey, dates and unicorns, knocked it together using fairy dust.

The original promise was that AT&T would still honor making the unlimited plan available to customers who bought their device ahead of the deadline. However, it turned out that there's no longer an option to sign up for this unlimited plan on-line at the time you first set-up the iPad from the internal configuration menu. Seems that for all new devices, the only options offered directly from the device are the 250Mb and 2Gb plans.

After poking around the relevant support boards on the Apple web site to try and fix this, two things became clear:

a) Apple says it's AT&T's problem not theirs, and

b) Be prepared to spend a long time on the phone.

I can agree with (a) and soon discovered the accuracy of (b).

I called the number being mentioned (1 866 640 5125) the next morning and heard a cheery voice say that "due to high call volume, expect to wait more than 20 mins", which was a bit of an understatement given that after 90 minutes of suffering through the single tne playing again and again as hold music, I had to give up and go to a meeting. I tried again that afternoon - and here having a speakerphone on your desk is a godsend - but once more had to duck out after one hour, thirty-eight minutes of listening to exactly the same tune all over again. (Reading some posts that day, others reported wait times of approx. 2 hours so, annoyingly, I wasn't far off getting to actually speak to a human being.)

Next day I tried calling early in the morning (7 am PST) and had the on-hold call in the background wile watching England finally win a game instead of drawing them. This time, I reached an operator in an hour and 45 minutes, but I do have to say that once I got there it all went through very quickly. Basically, they collect some details from you, a step which entails your reading some numbers off of the device (so have it to hand and powered up). You then complete sign-up on the iPad for the 2Gb plan and they say that you'll get a message in up to 10 days noting that you've been switched to the unlimited plan and will be charged accordingly. However, one caveat: don't let it lapse. If you drop down to a lower plan or forget to update your CC card details and a charge is declined that that's it - the unlimited plan is gone and you cannot get back onto it.

Any-hoo, the device is now running both AT&T and Wi-Fi, and I'll post something more about my initial experiences once I have had a chance to use it for a while and hence have, err, experienced something.

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