Q: I’m already getting AT&T wireless access (Starbucks, etc.) through my iPhone account. Can I also use the iPad there without having to pay the additional data fee to AT&T?
A: Based on AT&T’s current policies it seems unlikely. AT&T’s current Free Wi-Fi service is only available to access Wi-Fi from the specific device that your data plan is for. This means that if you’re an iPhone user, you get free Wi-Fi only on your iPhone, if you’re a Blackberry user, only on your Blackberry, and so forth. LaptopConnect users get free Wi-Fi for laptop computers, but even this requires that you insert your LaptopConnect card or USB device into your computer for authentication purposes.
Although AT&T has announced plans to offer free Wi-Fi access to iPad 3G users, it seems likely that this will be handled in the same manner as it is for the iPhone—you will need to actually be subscribed to an AT&T iPad 3G data plan, in which case the iPad will automatically login to AT&T Wi-Fi hotspots where available.
Note that it is entirely possible that this policy may change and AT&T may actually offer free Wi-Fi access for iPhone and iPad users, but based on AT&T’s track record, we wouldn’t count on it.