FCC to help mobile users to avoid 'bill shock'

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FCC to help mobile users to avoid 'bill shock'
Washington: The Federal Communications Commission, an independent agency of the U.S. government, is considering means to help consumers anticipate excessive wireless phone bills.

According to Wisconsin Senator Herb Kohl, who has examined the state of competition in the mobile phone industry and the causes of rising text message charges, American mobile phone users pay more for wireless phone service than in most developed nations.

FCC's Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau (CGB) requires to find ways to provide consumers with more and better information about why they have been charged so much. They expect to avoid 'bill shock,' an unpleasant experience for consumers that lead to complaints. The CGB aims to help consumers stop using their mobile devices before the charges become more than they can afford.

"We are hearing from consumers about unpleasant surprises on their bills," said Joel Gurin, Head of the CGB, in a statement. "We've gotten hundreds of complaints about bill shock. But this is an avoidable problem. Avoiding bill shock is good for consumers and ultimately good business for wireless carriers as well," Gurin added.

Gurin indicated that the FCC might consider an approach adopted in Europe where mobile carriers are required to alert consumers via text message, at no cost, when roaming charges approach a preset threshold or are accumulating at a rapid rate.

The Commission has issued a public notice seeking input on the idea, specifically: whether technological differences between mobile networks in the U.S. and the European Union would preclude such a plan; the extent to which current charge monitoring is possible; the utility of usage metrics for different types of service like voice and data; and the extent to which such information can be made accessible to people with disabilities.

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