No More Bill Shock as CTIA Gives In to FCC Threats

Isn’t it frustrating that you only find out that you’ve exceeded your plan when you get your phone bill? It’s hard to actually keep track of how much you’ve already consumed, especially if you’re busy with important things in life like running a business, keeping your employees in check, keeping in contact with business partners.  Even if you’re a normal person, just keeping constant communication with friends and family could actually gobble you up with massive phone bills.  Don’t you wish your carrier would at least inform you?

Well now they pretty much have to, after Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski threatened cellphone companies that they will step in to regulate cellphone charges to curb “bill shock” for wireless subscribers.

CTIA, a trade group representing the major cellphone companies, vows to warn subscribers before they go over their monthly limits for calling minutes, text messages and data use and to warn subscribers that they’re paying roaming fees if they travel abroad.  The warnings will arrive automatically as text messages so subscribers don’t have to subscribe or signup to anything.

AT&T and Verizon already provide warning messages before consumers go over their data plan but unfortunately, the warning doesn’t include information if subscribers are about to go over their messaging or calls.  Subscribers have to look it up.

If the FCC threatened cellphone companies, Research in Motion may have a treat for them.  During the 3-day service outage, cellphone companies had to face the wrath of angry consumers who thought that their providers went bonkers.  So RIM, aside from offering free premium apps to subscribers and free technical support for enterprise users, operators would also receive compensation for their trouble.

According to RIM Co-CEO Jim Balsillie on an interview with Bloomberg, “We’re very focused on these carriers and making sure they’re satisfied with the service operation and making sure we comply with all of our agreements with them and making sure we have their trust for the service going forward.  This is our offer and we worked systemically over the last three days to make that.  That was a pretty comprehensive set of efforts.”