Emerging LTE and the iPad


Colin here. I have been using the new iPad with Retina display for almost a year now. It’s great.

But I have noticed an interesting problem: once you use Retina resolution you simply cannot go back. Traditional LCD displays look grainy and give me a headache to look at for any duration.

The human brain is an amazing signal processor, and only after using a Retina display and then going bak to a traditional LCD do you realize how much of your brainpower is being spent on recognizing fuzzy text on computer monitors.

The other thing is that after using LTE you can’t go back. Fast Internet connections are addictive, and the Verizon LTE is one of those things you just can’t give up.

I routinely get speeds of 20 megabits per second on my iPad over Verizon LTE. It is not unheard of for me to get 40+ megabits per second. Yes, it is faster than my home Internet from Comcast. Incredible. Go Verizon!

I don’t understand why customers stick with AT&T. I listen to endless gripes about cut off calls from AT&T customers. (I have never had a cut off call since switching to Verizon.) people give the rather lame excuse that they are under a contract or that they haven’t gotten around to it. Have we grown fond of using AT&T’s poor quality service as an excuse to hang up in the middle of a conversation with the Mother-In-Law? When my stock broker calls me from his AT&T phone and I can only hear 70% of the words I think: Is this guy clueless…why doesn’t he switch to AT&T?

Well, that brings me to the matter of LTE and the iPad. The story gets more compelling.

The current edition of the iPad comes in two versions: AT&T and Verizon. The AT&T supports LTE only ONLY the AT&T network in the US and also Canada and Mexico. If you travel a lot to Canada and Mexico and you have packages with a carrier there then you may be Shanghai’d into an AT&T device.

But what most people don’t know is that the Verizon device works on Verizon, Sprint, and with these countries LTE: Australia, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Korea, Luxembourg, Philippines, Portugal, Romania, Singapore, Switzerland, and the UK.

The simple, summary is that if you travel outside North America you want the Verizon version of the iPad. None of the countries outside of North America are compatible with the AT&T version. Yes, it’s an IQ test.

There is one other very important consideration for globe trotters: as of this year it is now illegal to unlock phones. This means that you get locked into your carrier’s ridiculously overpriced international data plans. You can pay $2,000 a gigabyte if you just hop on an airplane and use your device. Since you can no longer legally unlock the device, you are stuck.

(Why should a device which you own and have paid for be locked? And, why should it be against the law for you to use your device on other carriers?)

Now here is the golden secret: Verizon LTE devices are not locked. Let me repeat this very slowly and clearly: All Verizon iPhones and iPads are not locked and can be used with other carriers. And, they are all GSM compatible. So, when you visit China or Germany or Australia you can just plug in a SIM card and get local service. An unlimited data plan in Thailand costs $35 and 2 GB will set you back under $20, for example.

Um, in case you missed this nuance let me call it out: you can use a Verizon LTE device on AT&T in 3G mode.

The bottom line here is that Verizon is all about good service and a great network. They are not into games, handcuffs, and trickery. The new law that prohibits you from unlocking phones primarily benefits AT&T who maintains a strict “Break out of jail and you go to jail” policy. This anti-consumer policy alone should be enough to avoid them, purely on ethical grounds.

So pay your $150 termination fee, switch to Verizon, and quit using cut-off calls as your excuse for not making your sales quota for the month.

No, I don’t own Verizon stock, they have no idea I am such a fan of theirs. My adoration of Verizon is strictly because they are a delight, their network works well, and I think they operate more ethically than AT&T.

Colin Berkshire