Rumor Mill: Verizon seizing on iPad launch as an opportunity

AT&T Mobility scored a coup by being Apple's only U.S. wireless partner for the iPad, but rival Verizon Wireless isn't about to let that stand in the way of a potential market opportunity, according to a leaked internal Verizon document.

According to the leaked memo, which first appeared on the blog Engadget, Verizon sees the launch of the WiFi-enabled iPad on April 3 as an opportunity to sign customers up for a MiFi device and its attendant Verizon data plan. The memo includes talking points for Verizon sales representatives intended to make sure potential customers are aware that the WiFi version of the iPad is not exclusive to AT&T, and that customers will need to pay more for the 3G-enabled version of the iPad. The memo also takes a shot at AT&T, noting, "Why pay more for the 3G version and get 3G service on an overloaded network with limited coverage?"

AT&T's 3G service plans for the iPad include a $14.99 per month plan for 250 MB and an unlimited data plan for $29.99 per month. The services will be prepaid, allowing users to cancel at any time, and will include access to AT&T's WiFi network.

A Verizon spokeswoman declined to comment on the report.

The impetus behind Verizon's plans may lie in comments made last week by AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson. Speaking at an analyst conference, Stephenson predicted iPad users would primarily rely on WiFi and not AT&T's cellular network. "We think it's going to be a largely WiFi-driven product," he said. AT&T has around 20,000 WiFi hotspots across the country.

Of course, Verizon is not the only carrier that could benefit from users looking for a mobile hotspot product for their iPad. Sprint Nextel's Overdrive 3G/4G device connects to Clearwire's mobile WiMAX network and broadcasts a WiFi hotspot for up to five devices.

For more:
- see this Engagdet post
- see this Silicon Alley Insider article

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