AT&T Inc., Verizon Wireless and other major cellphone providers have agreed with U.S. regulators to begin sending alerts to customers who are approaching monthly voice, text or data limits.
The aim is to help them avoid hefty additional charges that cause what consumer advocates call bill shock.
Under the voluntary industry guidelines, developed under the threat of new government regulations, companies also would send alerts when customers exceed their plans’ limits and are subject to overage charges. Customers traveling abroad would be warned that they are about to incur often pricey international roaming fees, according to Federal Communications Commission officials.
The alerts will be free to customers, who will automatically receive them unless they choose not to, said the officials, who requested anonymity to release details ahead of the official announcement.
FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski will unveil the guidelines Monday at a news conference with the head of wireless industry trade group CTIA and an executive from advocacy group Consumers Union, which has pushed for regulations and will help monitor compliance.
The guidelines come a year after the FCC proposed mandating over-the-limit and out-of-the-country alerts.
Genachowski at the time cited one person who was hit with a $35,000 bill for data and texting charges incurred while visiting a relative in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake. He said the agreement was a victory for the nation’s more than 300 million wireless users and will “ensure consumers get a fair shake, not bill shock.”
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