Some people are in full out panic mode as Stephane Richard, deputy chief executive of France Telecom/Orange, seemed to imply that the tablet might be partnering with telecommunication companies to provide 3G access on the device.

It should be noted that at no point does Richard talk in specifics, and in a roundabout way he alludes to network capabilities to handle transmitted “images in real time.” He also talks specifically about the device having a webcam built into it.

So, he’s either speculating himself, or dropping some concrete evidence that the Tablet is on the way, that it’ll include 3G, and that it has a webcam.

Take it for what it is: The Video Evidence (In French)

Waxing Philosophical about data plans

If Apple’s teamed up with mobile carriers to provide 3G access to the Tablet, I won’t buy it. It’d be a little more inciting if 3G access was optional, which seems a little less likely. Forking over the cash for the device would be a lot easier if Telcos allowed customers to use their existing dataplans on the device, but that seems highly unlikely.

It’s not that the idea of an internet-everywhere tablet isn’t ideal. It’s the fact that everything to do with every misstep we’ve seen with Telcos, 3G, and Apple. There’s not one thing Apple can tell us that would make having to sign a new contract or pay for yet another dataplan, a welcomed bit of news.

The way things currently sit with cellphone providers, any 3G device currently requires its own contract for a dataplan. If you’re lucky the company will discount the price of the hardware for you, but in some countries you’re stuck paying the full price of the device plus data fees. It makes complete sense for the telco’s to do it. Heck, if I was in their shoes I’d probably do the same.

The problem arises when people stop buying devices because they can’t afford to pay data plans. Some will likely have to choose between an iPhone or a Tablet if the rumours hold true, and that’s not a good approach for Apple, who’ve argued over the years that they’re in the business of selling hardware. A lot of people, in todays market economy, can’t afford an additional 50 to 100.00 per month in bills. A lot of people could probably squeeze the expense into their budget, but, if they do, they’ll be spending quite a hefty chunk of change on internet ready devices. Think about it for a second. Internet at home, Internet on the Phone, Internet on the tablet. In Canada that’s 45.00 per month, plus 30.00 per month, plus 30.00 per month. Excluding device rental fees, cellphone fees, and all those other access fees that seem like a scam. If we add those into the mix, we’re talking half of a paycheck per month (if you’re getting paid weekly).

If speculation holds true, some people might find themselves having to make some hard decisions. Either they buy an iPhone or they buy a Tablet, because dropping that much coin on internet devices is starting to become a little bit too steep for most consumers.