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AT&T's CEO doesn't think many people will use the iPad on 3G

With an exemplary track record of wireless network load planning like AT&T’s, it’s important to listen to what they believe will happen with future products.  Tucked into yesterday’s investor meeting, AT&T’s CEO mentioned that he didn’t expect much 3G traffic from the 10-inch screen media device with Youtube and other network-heavy applications:

AT&T Inc expects users of Apple Inc’s iPad to connect to the Internet mostly using short-range Wi-Fi networks rather than AT&T’s cellular network, the chief executive of AT&T said on Tuesday. While AT&T has agreed to provide wireless connections to the iPad tablet computer, Randall Stephenson said he does not expect the device to result in many new service subscriptions for AT&T as consumers will instead use Wi-Fi or prepaid services, where they do not subscribe to a service contract. “My expectation is that there’s not going to be a lot of people out there looking for another subscription,” he said during a webcast of an investor conference, adding that the device would be a mainly “Wi-Fi driven product.” Many consumers have their own Wi-Fi networks at home or go to coffee shops where they can avail of free Wi-Fi.

We took a poll (screengrabbed below) which seems to say that 3G will be an important part of the iPad experience with almost half of the people expecting to get iPads opting for the 3G version.  Our poll wasn’t alone in this “reverse Bell curve”.  Changewave got similar results.

The next few months might be interesting for those of us who rely on AT&T’s network.  Meanwhile some may consider the Mifi model.

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