C Spire moves to help customers avoid data overage charges

Regional carrier C Spire Wireless said it is taking steps to more proactively help its customers avoid data overage charges.

When 20 percent of a customer's monthly data plan remains, C Spire sends the customer a text message alert. Once users reach their monthly data limit, C Spire texts customers again and gives them an opportunity to purchase a "Top Up" data pass directly from their phone. Subscribers can choose from 500 MB of data for $10, 1 GB for $15 or 3 GB for $45. Further, any unused data from a Top Up pass rolls over to the next month.

"Our approach is simple: if you reach your monthly data limit, we'll let you decide if you want more," Suzy Hays, senior vice president of consumer markets for C Spire, said in a statement. "We won't use it as an opportunity to charge you huge fees without ever asking."

Citing data from the NPD Group, C Spire pointed out that U.S. smartphone users consume an average of 2.98 GB of data each month, but 30 percent of consumers use only 500 MB. That data fits with a recent report from industry analyst Chetan Sharma, who said that U.S. consumers on average chewed through around 2.5 GB of cellular data per month in the first quarter.

"It's a real dilemma because most users struggle to accurately gauge how much data they really need," Hays said. "If you purchase too much data, you're wasting money. If you buy too little, you get hit with surprise overage fees or your data speeds get throttled or slowed down."

It's unclear if C Spire is working with any vendors on the overage alert program. The carrier had worked in the past with network analytics and monetization vendor Openwave Mobility on its video passes. A C Spire spokesman did not immediately have a comment.

T-Mobile US (NYSE:TMUS) CEO John Legere is keeping up the pressure on Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ), AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T) and Sprint (NYSE:S) to drop overage charges on their domestic plans, as T-Mobile did a year ago. Legere has said that if a petition he started on the issue reaches 250,000 signatures, he will "send them a message that they won't miss." The online petition, at Change.org/AbolishOverages, has around 218,000 signatures.

For more:
- see this C Spire release

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