It is precisely this fee that the carriers are contemplating to slice and dice now, according to the type of usage. A recent presentation by two big companies that provide subscriber management services to large carriers like Verizon, AT&T and Vodafone, reveals a nice little traffic segmentation plan. Openet and Allot Communications are advertising tools to help carriers charge depending on the kind of Internet traffic their customers are generating. Here's the scoop:
"[We use] a number of different methods to accurately identify the application -- methods like heuristic analysis, behavioral and historical analysis, deep packet inspection, and a number of other techniques. What's key is that we have the best application identification available on the market, which means that even applications that are encrypted or use other methods to evade detection will be correctly identified and classified... We essentially feed this real-time information about traffic and application usage into the policy and charging system. Each subscriber has a particular service plan that they sign up for, and they're as generic or as personalized as the operator wants."
All of that might mean that if you are just updating your Facebook status or chatting on Skype every now and then, you will be charged differently than if, say, you throw the daily top ten YouTube videos in the mix. On top of that, if you use a VPN, or some other encrypted service, the two companies still say they can identify what are you visiting with which applications, and help carriers charge accordingly. It might be a steep climb, if that's what the carriers have in mind, since we can imagine all sorts of privacy concerns arising.