Two weeks ago, Apple announced officially that AT&T rival network carrier Verizon would carry the iPad in “over 2,000 Verizon Wireless Stores nationwide” from October 28. That day is finally here.

“This is the perfect pairing for holiday travels,” said John Stratton, chief operating officer for Verizon Wireless. “iPad together with the nation’s largest and most reliable 3G data network allows customers to easily connect on the go wherever they are.” But Stratton makes the process sound more integrated than it actually is – in a bizarre twist to the announcement, Verizon won’t be carrying 3G models of Apple’s rival tablet device. Instead, customers have the option of picking up a Verizon MiFI 2200 Intelligent Mobile Hotspot – a device launched in May 2009 that converts Verizon’s cellular 3G signal into a Wi-Fi connection which your iPad can connect to, just like any other wireless network.

1GB of data through MiFi will cost $20 per month, with additional service options of 3GB ($35/month) and 5GB ($50/month) available to all users, according to Newsi.es. This contrasts with AT&T’s available options of 250MB of data for $14.99/month or 2GB for $25/month, which beforehand were the only legal options iPad owners could choose from. The prices of devices in Verizon stores are as follows:

  • $629.99 for 16GB iPad (Wi-Fi) + MiFi
  • $729.99 for 32GB iPad (Wi-Fi) + MiFi
  • $829.99 for 64GB iPad (Wi-Fi) + MiFi

Note that these prices are $1 extra than Apple’s WiFi + 3G models, but include the MiFi device which would otherwise cost $269 standalone. Verizon will sell all three devices without MiFi, presumably for the same cost as the iPad in your local Apple store. For now, it looks like if you walk into the Apple store seeking an iPad with data, AT&T is the only way forward; but if you take a trip to your local Verizon Wireless store, things will be a little different. Apple noted in their official press release two weeks ago that “customers can sign up for more information on Apple’s iPad together with Verizon Wireless’ MiFi 2200 at www.verizonwireless.com/iPad” – no mention of Apple in-store service.

Verizon stores are apparently opening early to deal with potential high demand, so be sure to get down bright and early if you’re after the AT&T alternative.