FCC May Require Text Warnings Before You Get "Bill Shock"

The FCC is considering requiring cell carriers in the U.S. to do something their European counterparts already have to do: send customers text warnings when they’re about to incur massive charges because they’ve used up all their included minutes or are about to hit a roaming zone.

According to the FCC:

In June 2009, the European Union (EU) adopted regulations governing the transparency of retail roaming charges incurred by European wireless customers for voice calls, text messaging, and data services when traveling to other EU markets. Certain of these provisions, commonly referred to as the “bill shock” provisions, are designed to ensure that a consumer is fully aware of the roaming charges he or she is incurring so that the consumer does not receive a higher than expected bill for these services. …

Under the new EU regulations, when a wireless consumer places a voice call or text message in an EU market other than the consumer’s home market, the consumer’s home market provider must send to the consumer, free of charge, a text message detailing roaming prices for sending and receiving voice calls and text messages.

The consumer may elect not to receive this automatic notification service, but the service must be provided again, free of charge, upon request by the consumer. The new EU regulations also require that wireless providers notify a consumer using a data roaming service when the consumer has reached 80 percent of an agreed upon limit.

The FCC is now requesting comments to see whether it makes sense to mandate a similar system in the U.S. You can weigh in here; the Docket Number is 09-158.

Comment Sought On Measures Designed To Assist U.S. Wireless Consumers To Avoid “Bill Shock [FCC (PDF) via Consumer Reports Electronics]