Dutch ISP Set to Charge More By the App – In Order to Offset Dwindling Voice, SMS Revenues

Last December we noted that deep packet inspection (DPI) hardware vendors were trying to sell wireless carriers on the idea of billing consumers not only for more consumption (which they already do) but an additional surcharge if they wanted to use various apps and services, from Skype to Facebook. The presentation, by DPI vendors vendors Allot and Openet, also suggested that carriers could avoid such surcharges on their own content to make an extra buck — essentially the nightmare scenario for neutrality advocates. Ars Technica notes that Dutch carrier KPN is planning to implement this kind of pricing, charging extra for access to apps, even relatively low bandwidth-eaters like mobile VoIP or instant messaging:

The company has just announced plans to charge mobile phone users separate fees for using voice-over-IP (VoIP) services like Skype, instant messaging programs, and streaming video. Specific new rate plans haven’t yet been announced. “Services such as browsing, using mobile VoIP, instant messaging and watching videos will get their own price tag, just as it is now with calling and sending an SMS,” a company spokesperson told Dutch site Tweakers.net. The story has been widely covered this week in the Dutch-language press, with KPN being unusually direct about what it’s doing and why.

Carriers have for years made it clear that they’d love to use their power as network gatekeepers to erect additional surcharges in order to offset the inevitable loss in voice and SMS revenues as networks and devices become increasingly open. It’s a model that could easily take root here in the States, since our new neutrality rules (assuming they stay standing at all) don’t restrict this kind of behavior on wireless networks.
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