Before the government can force them to do something more drastic, each of the top four mobile service providers in the USA have announced today that they've agreed to voluntary industry guidelines amid cell phone bill shock that includes sending customers alerts before they reach their monthly voice, text, and data limits. Are you one of those people who freaks out each month when you realized you've actually used 15GB of data when your limit was 2GB? Bills smashing your wallet so hard you're thinking of taking out a mortgage on your home to continue use of your iPhone or Android or BlackBerry device? Those days are at an end!
Included in this set of completely voluntarily followed guidelines, providers would be sent information about their monthly limits BEFORE they reach them - plus, for those traveling abroad, alerts will be sent out showing customers what they'll be paying if they want to continue using the devices they're using overseas - roaming fees and the like. These regulations come from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and include the stipulation that all alerts will be completely free to customers.
Kathleen Grillo, Verizon senior vice president for federal regulatory affairs had the following to say on the situation:
“Chairman Genachowski [of the FCC] deserves credit for raising the industry’s awareness of the value of more usage alerts. He encouraged the industry to address usage alerts in a manner that recognizes that innovations in the wireless world develop quickly. The result is an industry code that will serve consumers better than rules that would soon be outdated, and that is responsive to President Obama’s request that federal agencies avoid imposing unnecessary regulation on businesses when a nonregulatory solution is available. We hope that in the future this industry effort serves as a model for the communications space.”
Guidelines were revealed today at a conference that included the head of wireless industry trade group CTIA. According to the LA Times, a Consumers Union poll this May showed more than 60% of wireless customers polled supported a government-led initiative and rules to avoid bill shock. Since then, CTIA opposed the first round of FCC regulations and they've been in talks since that've lead to today's announcement. CTIA notes that "Regulations, no matter how well-intentioned, simply cannot be as flexible and responsive to consumer needs as a self-regulatory code."
Alerts will be in place, all four of them: voice, data, text, and international charges, within 18 months on of the carriers that've agreed to take part.