This might be a first: A communications company decides to charge mobile users separately for use of Skype, instant messaging and video entertainment, and regulators say those are good moves, as they could lead to more consumer choice.

KPN has announced plans to charge mobile phone users separate fees for using VoIP services like Skype, instant messaging programs, and streaming video, but specific new rate plans haven’t yet been announced. The way it might work is that consumers would buy those sorts of services on plans, just as they now buy voice or text messaging buckets or plans. See http://translate.google.com/translate?js=n&prev=_t&hl=en&ie=UTF-8&layout=2&eotf=1&sl=nl&tl=en&u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.telegraaf.nl%2Fdigitaal%2F9600864%2F__Extra_heffingen_datadiensten_KPN__.html%3Fsn%3Ddigitaal

One can argue that mobile pricing plans which charge separately for certain applications such as Skype, instant messaging or streaming video would be “consumer surly” by definition.

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But Netherlands regulators appear to believe that such “per application” charges could be consumer friendly, in particular if they lead to consumer ability to construct customized service packages that correspond to their unique usage patterns and preferences.

Dutch regulator OPTA has already said publicly that it’s fine with the move, so long as KPN is transparent about how it charges. In fact, an OPTA spokesperson said she would “cheer such a development,” since it provides more choice for consumers to put together a subscription package that meets their needs.

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