Some iPad owners are seeing their monthly data allotment from cellphone carriers being used up by watching a single two-hour movie, The Washington Post reported Friday.
Cellular companies faced with overburdened networks are now charging customers for each byte of data they consume, and industry leaders Verizon and AT&T have stopped offering new customers unlimited data plans.
"My view has always been that video via cellular was always a fantasy," said Craig Moffett, an analyst at Bernstein Research. "The networks simply aren't designed to handle it."
Verizon charges $20 a month for 1 gigabyte of data on its 4G network and AT&T charges at least $14.99 for 250 megabytes. Both charge for any usage in excess of those limits.
Tablets like the iPad generate three times more network traffic than the average smartphone, a study by Cisco found.
Cellphone carriers have been urging frustrated customers to use WiFi networks whenever possible.
"For the time being, it looks like consumers who are budget-conscious will need to reserve some of their high-bandwidth applications for times they are at home or connected to a WiFi network," said Michael Calabrese, director of the future of wireless project at the New America Foundation think tank.