FCC Considering New Mobile Rules To Prevent "Bill Shock"

Have you ever opened up your cell phone bill, only to drop it immediately in shock of the huge numbers you see? You aren't alone. Particularly in a world of smartphones, texting overages, and global roaming, it's not too difficult to spend more than you expected on mobile costs. To date, carrier's aren't required to give consumers a "heads-up" when they're about to go over their allotted minutes, texts messages, or data plan, so the bill simply comes with huge figures rather than a warning a few weeks earlier.

A New York Times report has found that the "Federal Communications Commission will propose rules on Thursday requiring mobile phone companies to alert customers by voice or text message when they are have reached monthly usage limits and are about to incur extra charges." That's according to the FCC chairman Julius Genachowski, which he says will be a part of the consumer empowerment agenda. The goal is to allow consumers to be alerted of these overages before they happen (or as they're about to), in order to do away with this "bill shock."

The FCC seems to feel that carriers are still hiding fees and costs, and they aren't alerting their consumers when they're about to incur overage charges. Reportedly, the FCC will consider proposed rules that would require these companies to give notice to consumers when they're nearing their limits. This would encourage consumers to either cut back for the month or purchase an upgraded plan to handle their usage.

Mobile phone carriers and trade groups are opposing this in a big way. They say that this enforcement would be expensive and resource-consuming, and there are definitely two sides to the story. It's really a question of where the burden should be: should carriers be expected to hold the hand of consumers and slap their wrist when they're about to go over their limits, or should consumers be responsible for paying attention to their own usage?