Carrier iPad Hotspot Problems & Carrier Gooblygook

Discussion in 'iPad' started by PatientWaiter, Apr 12, 2015.

  1. PatientWaiter macrumors newbie

    Mar 25, 2013
    Hi All,

    I recently picked up an iPad Air (original, not '2') direct from Apple a few months ago. Decided I would stay a loyal AT&T customer and get the model compatible with their network. Turns out, after literally months of research and having contacted AT&T representatives numerous times, it turns out I have been lied to.

    Here's the gist: I don't have a month-to-month plan on the iPad, nor do I plan on purchasing one. One of my primary reasons for getting the iPad was to utilize the 'hotspot' feature, essentially using it as a router for my computer while away on business. Hotel Wi-Fi is horrible and I am often on commuter trains.

    Unfortunately/fortunately, my phone's data plan is grandfathered into the original unlimited data plan from yesteryear - something I have zero intention of changing. But the caveat is that I cannot use my phone as a hotspot device - enter my intentions with the iPad.

    Here's where the outright lies come into play. Turns out, despite checking so many times with representatives on the phone, online, and in person, I cannot purchase just 'any' data plan with my iPad. I originally purchased the $30 for 3GB (lasts for 30 days) of data which would more than suit my needs while traveling this week. Much to my surprise and disappointment, I found the 'hotspot' feature to remain disabled. After speaking with literally 6 people at AT&T, being bounced around from department to department, I finally found a representative to explain to me that the only plan that supports tethering/hotspot access is the 5GB plan -- meaning that I would need to spend $50 for a 30 day plan. Outrageous! Especially considering I could find very little CLEAR information about any of this on their website - hence my reasoning for checking all of this for months ahead in the first place.

    SO... here's my dilemma.

    I'd like to either exchange (via sell and buy a new one - I'm well past my return date) or possibly change out SIM cards if that's even a possibility. I have no idea how any of that works. What are my options?

    AND most important, is there a resource and/or personal referrals of each carrier and their data plan costs THAT INCLUDES whether tethering is included? (For instance, at AT&T the 3GB for $30 plan does not support hotspot; only the 5GB for $50 does.) It is important to note that I am not looking for a monthly plan as I will only be traveling infrequently. Need to buy packages on an 'as needed basis'.

    Really hoping you can help me. The information I've searched online for the last 48 hours seems to turn up very little true information.


    - Newish iPad Air purchased with LTE on AT&T system.
    - Personal Hotspot feature to connect to Macbook disabled unless I pay $50 per month for 5GB data.
    - Outraged at AT&T for bad customer service, disingenuous marketing tactics.
    - Looking to switch providers if possible. Only looking for month-to-month as needed plan, e.g., no contracts.
    - Which carriers support the hotspot feature and at what price level? Are there any catches?
  2. scaredpoet, Apr 13, 2015
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2015

    scaredpoet macrumors 604


    Apr 6, 2007
    iPad Air models (both 1 and 2) are multi-carrier, unlocked. You do not need to exchange the device. All you need to do is swap out the SIM to the carrier of your choice.

    Verizon data plans for iPad include hotspot, all plans.

    T-Mobile includes hotspot on all paid plans. They also have a 200MB/month "free for life" plan, which you can stack any paid data plan onto at any time, including prepaid and postpaid, or just run without an additional plan and get your 200MB for the month. Depending on *where* you travel, T-Mobile could be of limited use if you're out in the boondocks in the US. However, if you get a postpaid data plan, you get unlimited international roaming (albeit at 2G speed).

    With AT&T and Verizon postpaid plans, you may get hit with overages if you go over your plan data cap. On prepaid, the data just stops.

    With T-Mobile on any paid plan, you do not get hit with overages. You do get throttled to 2G speeds past your cap, but have the option of buying an additional on demand pass if you want more high speed data. for that period. the free 200MB plan is a hard cap: data stops flowing once you hit it.

    As for Sprint, don't even bother. They're not worth considering, frankly.
  3. PatientWaiter thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 25, 2013
    Thanks for the information, very helpful! After visiting both physical locations of Verizon and T-Mobile, I learned some more information which further complicates my issue.

    According to the Verizon representative at the store, I cannot switch carriers from AT&T to Verizon. He tried a few times, but he told me that their system wouldn't accept my device - the iPad Air 1. He said if it were an Air 2 using the Apple SIM, it wouldn't be a problem. Because I own the Air 1, this is a 'no go'.

    On the other hand, I visited the T-Mobile store and they swapped out the SIM cards without any problem. However! The only way this would work long term is if I created an account with them and was on a contract. That is, no 'pre-paid' option as it was explained to me. This is not a viable option for me.

    Thoughts? Is this all true?? Am I STUCK with AT&T?
  4. zorinlynx macrumors 601


    May 31, 2007
    Florida, USA
    It blows my mind that AT&T is still restricting hotspot usage with some plans. Seriously, WTF? If you pay for 3GB you should be able to use it all in one hour if you want.
  5. PatientWaiter thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 25, 2013
    My point exactly. I would write a strongly worded letter to them if I felt like anyone would listen. But alas, the monopolistic juggernaut doesn't give a rat's you know what about their loyal customers. Makes me want to disconnect ALL of my AT&T devices because of this clusterf%&^.
  6. tdhurst macrumors 68040


    Dec 27, 2003
    Phoenix, AZ

    I retired my unlimited plan so I could tether.

    Can't get everything you want.
  7. ron7624 macrumors 68020


    Oct 14, 2011
    Houston, Texas area
    I retired my unlimited plan so I could talk, your fighting an uphill battle. With my data share plan, tethering works. Very well using ATT.
  8. tdhurst macrumors 68040


    Dec 27, 2003
    Phoenix, AZ

    Same here.
  9. flur macrumors 68000

    Nov 12, 2012
    Try a different rep on a different day. They guy you got is confused. Verizon is not on the Apple SIM. The rep has to give you a Verizon SIM. They will also tell you that you need to activate it against a contract, but you can do a prepaid "contract" for one month, so you're not locked in.

    AFAIK, you can do the same with T-Mo (activate a prepaid contract). I did this with T-Mo and still get the 200mb a month, even though I swapped my SIM for a Verizon one.

Share This Page