How Long Does Your LTE iPad Data Allowance Last?

With a new LTE-enabled iPad in your mits, the internet is your oyster. At least, for a few days—because reports are already popping up that it's insanely easy to burn through a generous data allowance in mere hours thanks to that ultra-fast data connection.

The Wall Street Journal reports, for instance, that for some unlucky basketball fans, two hours of March Madness was enough to eat through a two gigabyte allowance. No doubt plenty of users are managing to zip through their data quotas in a similar way—and hitting the limit means stumping up somewhere around $10 a gigabyte for the rest of the month. Brandon Wells, interviewed in the WSJ piece, sums it up well:

"It's kind of a Catch-22. It streams really fast video, but by streaming really fast video you tend to watch more video, and that's not always best."

Dilemma. Indeed, what many consumers probably don't realize is that if they don't change their 3G browsing habits, they'll end up using far more data using LTE. Verizon estimates, for instance, that streaming video using LTE uses 650 megabytes an hour—double that used when doing the same thing over 3G. The fatter virtual pipe just allows more data through, simple as that.

Combine that with the fact that the sharper Retina display encourages streaming video at the highest possible resolution, and you have a recipe for burning through data. A five gigabyte monthly allowance will let you stream somewhere in the region of 7.5 hours of HD video—that's before any browsing or email checking—which spread over a month is paltry.

So, what's to do? Ideally, providers would change their pricing models to make using the LTE iPad in the way it was intended financially viable. Fat chance of that, though. That leaves two options: either deal with the cost, or keep a closer check on your habits online. That probably means streaming less video on the move and hooking up to a WiFi network whenever you can. [Wall Street Journal]