Cogeco offers $5 unlimited WiFi plan for the iPad

Unlimited WiFi for $5 per month with no data caps or contract to sign may sound familiar to those living or working in the downtown Toronto core.

Cogeco Data Services Inc., which launched this no-strings-attached plan for iPhone and iPod Touch users last summer, is planning to launch a very similar plan for the iPad this month.

The One Zone WiFi service plan for the Apple iPad will be available on May 10 – the same day Apple Inc. will begin to accept online orders for the iPad from Canada and eight other countries.

The service will extend across Cogeco’s One Zone network, which spans six square kilometres in downtown Toronto – from Front St. up to Bloor St. (south to north) and Spadina Ave. over to Jarvis St. (west to east).

One Zone is an 802.11g wireless network that provides download speeds up to 7 MBPS, which can vary depending on your location in the zone.

The iPad plan is well suited for mobile workers, said Virginia Brailey, vice-president of communications at Cogeco Data Services.

Cogeco also offers three standard WiFi packages, which range from $5 to $29 for one hour, day or month of service.

Users who sign up for one the standard plans by logging in and registering from their laptops or netbooks can use the same username and password for their iPhones or iPads, said Brailey.

Over one million iPads have been sold in the U.S. since Apple launched the devices on April 3. The company announced iPad pricing and launch dates for nine other countries today, including Canada.

Pre-orders for all iPad models will begin on May 10 through the online Apple Store. The devices will be available in Canada on May 28.

Pricing for the WiFi-only models start at $549 for 16GB, $649 for 32GB and $749 for 64GB. For models with WiFi and 3G capability, pricing is $679 for 16GB, $779 for 32GB and $879 for 64GB.

Canadian wireless carriers have not announced data packages or availability for the iPad yet, but Rogers Wireless Inc. has announced it will offer price plans for all models at the end of May.

Cogeco’s announcement of a $5 iPad plan isn’t surprising considering they already offer a $5 iPhone/iPod plan, said Mark Tauschek, director of IT research at London, Ont.-based Info-Tech Research Group.

But Cogeco might be in for a surprise itself in terms of how much capacity it consumes, he said. “I think iPad users will tend to consume more bandwidth,” he said.

The iPad plan might also be more attractive to users than the iPhone/iPod plan was, according to Tauschek. “If I lived and worked in that area of Toronto, I would be all over it,” he said.

With an unlimited $5 WiFi plan, you can avoid paying the $130 extra for a 3G iPad and buy the WiFi-only model instead, he suggested. “It’s a pretty stellar deal,” said Tauschek.

While iPad 3G data plans haven’t been announced, Tauschek said he suspects the plans will fall into the $35 to $40 per month range. “If you can pay $5 instead and get connectivity the vast majority of the time … that’s pretty compelling,” he said.

One Zone users may experience spotty reception, but this is bound to happen on this type of network, he said. You are likely to get a more reliable connection outside rather than indoors, but it isn’t perfect, he said. “But again … for $5 a month, it’s kind of hard to go wrong,” he said.

Cogeco is constantly monitoring the performance of the One Zone network and making sure it is in good working order, said Brailey. But this isn’t the company’s primary focus, she pointed out. “Our main focus is providing businesses with network services,” she said.

“We are obviously very excited about it and we get customer input, which is fun for us because it’s the one consumer service we have,” said Brailey.
Follow me on Twitter @jenniferkavur.