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Bill Shock in FCC Crosshairs

Following up our last bill shock post, it looks like the FCC has finally taken action.

For those of you following this blog you know that this has been an issue of interest to me for quite awhile. I predicted this would need to be addressed. Earlier this week the CTIA, Federal Communications Counsel and Consumers Union’s Communications Policy Counsel declared victory against bill shock in the form of the “Wireless Consumer Usage Notification Guidelines.” Bill shock is the term used to describe the unexpected wireless charges that come from overage and/or roaming.

The new plan requires wireless carriers to provide free alerts before and after subscribers reach monthly limits on voice, data and text. The plan also includes a notification to inform consumers of international roaming charges when traveling abroad. This is an opt-out plan, so subscribers will receive these alerts automatically covered.
Even President Obama weighed in on the issue: “Far too many Americans know what it’s like to open up their cell-phone bill and be shocked by hundreds or even thousands of dollars in unexpected fees and charges. … Our phones shouldn’t cost us more than the monthly rent or mortgage.”

The FCC hopes to complete the rollout of the plan in 12 months, but frankly it can’t come soon enough. Just today, TG Daily is reporting that a woman received a $201,005.41 cell phone bill.

Openwave offers a flexible and dynamic solution to help carriers prevent bill shock. Openwave Passport: Smart Policy is a notification and recommendation solution that not only informs users when they are close to their roaming limit (or pre-pay limit, or premium service limit, etc.), but it can offer any number of time- or volume-based extensions.

Under the new FCC mandate, carriers will be required to notify their subscribers about approaching data and roaming limits. They need to make the most of this outreach and use it as an opportunity to offer their users other services that may prove just as valuable as a bill shock warning.