updated 06:05 pm EST, Fri February 5, 2010
Carrier would use notebook plans, Huawei routers
The Austrian division of cellular carrier 3 has unusually claimed that it will subsidize Apple's iPad as soon as possible. National chief Berthold Thoma says his company will be the first to bundle the tablet and will simply use the same strategy it does for notebook data bundles to encourage customers. Those who buy an iPad will get a generic 333 euro ($456) credit if they agree to a two-year data plan worth about 29 euros ($41) per month.
Rather than wait for the April availability of 3G units, 3 will also initially sell the iPad with a Huawei i-Mo router. The device is billed as the smallest mobile hotspot in the world and would give iPad owners a 7.2Mbps peak HSPA link that could be shared over Wi-Fi both to Apple's device and a handful of other nearby gadgets. Thoma says it delivers about 3Mbps peak in real-world conditions.
The executive doesn't say whether 3 Austria has Apple's blessing, although it's unlikely without a more official announcement from either party or deals at other networks. A formal deal isn't necessarily required as 3 isn't making changes to its plans and the iPad's 3G modem is unlocked; the AT&T deal in the US is chiefly to provide a better bargain on service.