FCC to fight bill shock with introduction of mobile usage alerts

FCC to fight bill shock with introduction of mobile usage alerts

Stories of huge phone bills for excessive usage may soon become a thing of the past in the United States, as the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) prepares to announce an industry guideline to provide mobile users with updates of their usage, according to The Los Angeles Times.

The organisation first announced its intention to investigate the possibility of consumer alerts last year and a concrete announcement with the backing of AT&T and other US carriers is expected today.

Under the guidelines, customers approaching their monthly limit would receive a free message informing them that they are in danger of being charged extra for usage of their device.

Reports suggest that alerts covering any two of the four types of usage—voice, data, text and international charges—could be operational within the next year, with alerts for all four like to become active within 18 months.

Additional mobile charges are a huge issue in the U.S., as two reports outlined in The New York Times confirm:

2010 study by the F.C.C. found that one in six mobile device users had experienced bill shock, with 23 percent of those users facing unexpected charges of $100 or more. A separate F.C.C. report noted that 20 percent of the bill shock complaints it received during the first half of 2010 were for $1,000 or more in overage charges.

The inclusion of international roaming charge warnings is a boon for international travellers. The ease with which new SIM cards or alternative roaming packages can be activated has led to consumers unintentionally overspending on their cellphone plans. Several high profile bill shock cases have increased awareness of exorbitant charges and alternative options, thus leading to the forthcoming changes proposed by the FCC.

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