Tuesday, October 18, 2011


The nation's wireless providers have announced a deal with consumer groups and the Federal Communications Commission that will set up a system to alert customers to overage fees. The FCC had been set to announce new rules to combat so-called "bill shock", which it introduced last year. Under the terms of the deal, the wireless carriers agreed to set up a system to alert customers to voice, data, text, and roaming overages. Two of those four must be in place within a year, and the entire system ready within 18 months.

In return, the FCC would suspend its own efforts to pass new regulations. Both groups believe that the system will be implemented well before the deadline. "These alerts will give consumers the information they need to save money on their monthly wireless bills", FCC chairman Julius Genachowski says in prepared remarks. "Consistent with the FCC's ongoing efforts, these actions harness technology to empower consumers, and ensure consumers get a fair shake, not bill shock".

While the FCC is allowing the industry to self-regulate, it would keep its own efforts open in case carriers fail to act. CTIA president and CEO Steve Largent said the process of getting the system set up would not be easy, and would take some time to implement.

Many carriers already offer overage alerts, but only on an opt-in basis. The deal would require that the system become opt-out.

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