FCC expected to address bill shock today

The FCC is expected to propose rules today that require mobile-phone operators to alert subscribers via voice or text message that they have reached their monthly usage limits for voice and/or data and will face extra charges rather than being surprised on their next bill.

Bill shock is particularly acute when it comes to mobile data charges. "The data is clear that there is a significant consumer issue," Genachowski told The New York Times. He cited a November 2009 study by the Government Accountability Office that found one-in-three users of wireless phones and data networks had received unexpected charges on their bills.

In a filing with the F.C.C. opposing new billing and notification regulations, Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ) said that it agreed that consumers should have "access to clear information regarding their wireless usage," and that is already being done thanks to intense competition in the market. Verizon Wireless  recently announced that it would pay millions in refunds to some 15 million mobile subscribers who were erroneously charged for data services on the operator's network.

Recently the FCC has highlighted several of the more outrageous complaints it had received, including a retired 66-year-old marketing executive in Dover, Mass., who said he had received an $18,000 bill after his mobile service's free data downloads expired without warning.

"Most people still don't know what a megabyte is," Genachowski said. "So it's hard to expect them to know when they have reached their limits." Of course the only operator subscribers need to worry about in terms of counting megabytes is AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T) , which moved to tiered pricing plans based on megabyte packages.

For more:
- see this New York Times article

Related articles:
Verizon Wireless paying millions in refunds for erroneous data charges
Verizon to refund customers for mistaken data charges
Verizon to pay $1.5M settlement over 'free' ring tones
Goodbye unlimited: VZW charges for data overages
Survey: Unbilled data charges top revenue loss concerns

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