Despite AT&T's recent marketing, which states that 97% of all Americans are covered by AT&T's 3G network, a somewhat surprising number of reports continue to surface from new iPad 3G owners that are being denied the ability to initiate a data plan for their new iPad. During the activation/signup process for an iPad 3G data plan, AT&T is performing checks on the addresses of new customers and refusing to initiate service for those that fall outside of the current coverage provided by AT&T's 3G network. Yes, you heard right: AT&T, who has taken considerable heat for their lack of 3G coverage, is highlighting that fact by turning away customers on that basis.
The issue is that many of these customers are well aware of the fact that their home address is not within AT&T's 3G coverage area, but want to purchase an iPad data plan nonetheless. After all, the vast majority of iPad owners will likely choose to use their WiFi networks at home, while reserving the use of their iPad 3G data plans for when they are on the road or otherwise away from home. Additionally, and perhaps more importantly, the iPad 3G will fail over to AT&T's EDGE network when 3G coverage is not available and one can assume that customers who escape the reach of AT&T's 3G network likely fall within the EDGE network and could successfully (albeit slowly) use their iPad on that network.