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  1. Default iPad data for US non-residents + 3G coverage

    Hi, in august I am coming for road trip to US from Europe, and I would like to take my iPad as a good companion for booking lodging, planning routes etc. Do you guys have any experiences with bringing such a device from overseas? I read some forums and it seems that it's not that simple to get a data plan (or preferably prepaid 3G sim card) if I don't reside in the States. Could you help me out with this?

    And btw how is the 3G coverage in US? Can one rely on it even outside urban areas or is it available just in cities? I heard that the best coverage is provided by verizon, is it true?

    Thanks for your replies.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    Your best bet really would likely be simply relying on Wi-Fi, which is widely available and often free. Restaurants, coffee shops, hotels, and libraries are just a few of the places where you can get online for little to no cost.

    I personally don't have any sort of data plan for my laptop, and while there are the occational times where it would be nice, I never find it hard to find a wi-fi signal when I want/need one.

    AT&T/T-mobile is really the only company that operates with sim cards. Verizon, Sprint, and the others generally run on a different system. I'm not sure exactly what is the best option for pre-paid data in your situation, but anything will likely be fairly expensive.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    The iPad only works on AT&T here, and getting a prepaid 3g sim with a data package is not easy, if it's even possible for a visitor without a US address and credit card. 3g coverage is excellent in cities, but away from civilization, all you would have is slow EDGE, and that will only be along Interstate highways and in towns. It's generally not too difficult to find wifi.

  4. #4


    I actually have a blog post that discusses this. I live in Canada but travel to the US a lot and needed to find a way to set up an AT&T account as a non-resident, because it's a lot cheaper than data roaming with my home carrier.

    The easy answer:
    1. Buy a prepaid, reloadable Visa, MasterCard, or American Express card in the US
    2. Buy an AT&T MicroSIM card at an AT&T store
    3. Activate the account through the iPad using the prepaid credit card, and using any US address. Prepaid credit cards aren't validated against a billing address, which is the key to this process.

    The AT&T iPad data plan is a month-to-month service with no minimum term, so if you never plan on returning to the US after your visit in August, you can simply cancel through the iPad interface, and the account is cancelled.

    Oh and Verizon isn't an option. iPads used on the Verizon network are CDMA, not GSM, and are specially manufactured for US/Verizon customers. The rest of us in the world use pure GSM, so AT&T is the only carrier available to us as foreigners. T-Mobile is GSM but operates on a frequency the iPad doesn't support.
    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 07-15-2011 at 05:01 PM.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Default Excellent explanation

    Very concise advice. Nicely done. There is a rule herein about no posts to external links (especially private sites) in a member's first post. But once in a huge while there are exceptions to this policy and your post is one of these rare posts.

    Welcome to the Great American RoadTrip Forum!


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