No, the home router isn’t dead
During the announcement coverage for the new iPad on Wednesday, I heard some comments from tech pundits that predicted — or according to them, confirmed — some really crazy things. On the announcement of LTE connectivity options on the new iPad, two comments sparked my interest: “this is a game changer” (and more to that effect) and ”the home router is dead”.
No, LTE on an iPad is not a game changer. The home router is still breathing and has a long, healthy life ahead of it.
Let’s hit the LTE topic first. Obviously 4G LTE is the new buzz in the wireless industry (at least in the US). Apple is all about buzzwords, and adding LTE to the iPad while retaining great battery life is surely a technical feat for them to market against. What people have to realize is that first of all, a vast majority of iPads have been and will be sold as WiFi only, $499 models. Consumers buying 4G (and previously 3G) models are the severe minority when it comes to any tablet model. The costs are just too high for average people. It is not at all cost effective for people to purchase a mobile network-enabled iPad for a minimum of $629, followed by $30 (or more) a month in data fees from AT&T or Verizon. The value proposition just isn’t there.
So let’s think about this home internet situation. LTE-enabled iPads with 5GB data caps for $50 a month are not killing cable and DSL. Not now, not in the foreseeable future. Even the average consumer cannot complete all of their computing tasks on an iPad. The idea that someone can live on an iPad and an iPhone, with a combination of anywhere from 2GB to 10GB between the two, is absolutely laughable. It takes a very specific use-case and individual to fit their life into that model. An average user with a laptop will easily use 50GB+ monthly. Heavy users like myself will be well over 100GB. Families will regularly use 150GB or more depending on the devices. How could you ever be expected to fit your monthly computing and internet use into 2 devices and 10GB of data? And at the price of $100 monthly just for the data on those devices? Of course not including other service charges for voice and text on the phone.
I realize that the idea of having a 4G LTE connection for each individual device is a forward-looking concept, but it is nowhere near reality. Given the current pricing and apparent bandwidth / spectrum limitations of the world’s wireless carriers, the landscape will have to change severely in order to make this dream happen.
So go ahead and keep that router around. You’re going to need it.