When Apple's iPad 3G ships in April, U.S. wireless partner AT&T will offer two data plans for the gadget, with different costs and monthly download allotments.

Specifically, AT&T will offer a $14.99 monthly plan that allows for 250 MB of data consumed, and a $29.99 monthly plan that allows for unlimited Internet consumption.

For an idea of what the cheaper plan offers, here's what 250 MB translates to:


* About 35 minutes of YouTube video at standard-definition
* OR about 8-10 minutes of YouTube or iTunes video at 720p hi-definition
* OR about 70 songs from iTunes
* OR a few thousand Web pages and typical email usage
* OR more than 4,000 Facebook photos

So, if you think a month's worth of 3G access looks like this, then you should be fine with the 250 MB plan:


* Browsing a few dozen Web pages a day and typical email usage (without downloading big attachments)
* Looking at a few dozen Facebook photos a day
* Watching a few minutes of YouTube video a week
* Downloading a few songs and podcasts from iTunes per month
* Downloading a few small iPhone or iPad apps per month, light app usage

If you think you'll be using more bandwidth than that over 3G, you may consider the $29.99 plan. Remember that you can cancel anytime, change plans on a monthly basis, or turn service off and on, because there is no contract. (And no "activation fee" was disclosed during Steve Jobs' presentation.)

Remember, using the iPad in a wi-fi zone doesn't count toward this limit. So if you're going to be using the iPad primarily at home—the best use case—or at the office, or anywhere there's wi-fi, you won't need to worry about hitting the 250 MB cap. AT&T is also including free access to its wi-fi networks in its 3G plans, which includes Starbucks locations.

What happens if you go over 250 MB? Will AT&T stick you with unreasonable overage charges?

The company won't say.

But our hunch, because this is prepaid service — no contract or credit check required — is that once your 250 MB are up, AT&T's network meter will simply require you to upgrade to the $29.99 plan to continue using the Internet.

This seems the more consumer-friendly, responsible thing to do, and eliminates AT&T's risk of offering you credit. But AT&T refuses to immediately give more information than what Jobs said in his presentation. So we can't be sure.