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Empowering Consumers to Avoid Bill Shock; Consumer Information and Disclosure

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Released: December 10, 2010

Federal Communications Commission

FCC 10-180

Before the

Federal Communications Commission

Washington, D.C. 20554

In the Matter of
)
)

Empowering Consumers to Avoid Bill Shock
)
CG Docket No. 10-207
)
Consumer Information and Disclosure
)
CG Docket No. 09-158

NOTICE OF PROPOSED RULEMAKING

Adopted: October 14, 2010

Released: October 14, 2010

Comment Date:

(30 days after date of publication in the Federal Register).

Reply Comment Date: (60 days after date of publication in the Federal Register).

By the Commission: Chairman Genachowski and Commissioners Copps, McDowell, Clyburn and Baker
issuing separate statements.

I. INTRODUCTION

1. In this Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, we propose rules that would require mobile service
providers to provide usage alerts and information that will assist consumers in avoiding unexpected
charges on their bills.1 The Commission's data, including both complaint and survey results, indicates
that many mobile consumers experience sudden, unexpected increases in their monthly bills that are not
caused by intentional changes in their service plans.2 The Commission's recent survey confirms that as
many as 30 million Americans have experienced such unexpected increases in their wireless bills,
commonly referred to as "bill shock."3 Bill shock can result from a number of causes such as an
unexpected increase that comes from high roaming fees or exceeding a monthly allotment of voice
minutes, texts, or data consumption. This type of bill shock can be prevented by timely and easily
accessible usage information.4 As mobile service is the fastest growing segment of the communications
market, with more and more consumers taking advantage of the convenience and capabilities of mobile


1 As discussed below, we seek comment on the scope of mobile service providers that may be covered by the
proposed requirements discussed herein. See infra Sec. IV.
2 See, e.g., FCC Survey Confirms Consumers Experience Mobile Bill Shock And Confusion About Early
Termination Fees
, News Release and Survey, 2010 WL 2110749 (rel. May 26, 2010) (Bill Shock Survey).
3 See Bill Shock Survey. As discussed further below, many state and consumer groups confirm that bill shock
remains a significant problem for consumers. See, e.g. Consumer Action Bill Shock Comments at 3-4; Consumers
Union Bill Shock Comments at 4-6; Mass. AG Bill Shock Comments at 6-8; Montgomery County Bill Shock
Comments at 1; NASUCA Reply Bill Shock Comments at 2-3.
4 We note that unexpected charges can also occur for reasons that extend beyond a lack of timely and easily
accessible usage information, such as confusion about the underlying terms and conditions of the service plan.
Such forms of bill shock are beyond the scope of this proceeding. As noted below, the Commission intends to
address these broader disclosure issues at a later date. See infra note 6.

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services, these unexpected charges result in significant expenditures of time, effort, and money for many
American consumers each year.5
2. The record developed in response to the Consumer Information NOI6 and Bill Shock PN7 and Bill
Shock Survey persuades us that consumers face significant challenges in monitoring mobile usage and
protecting themselves from substantial roaming charges or overage charges for exceeding their monthly
allotments of voice minutes, text and data. In addition, we have found that usage alerts offered by mobile
providers vary widely between service providers and by type of service covered. For example, AT&T
offers no alerts for voice usage and provides alerts only after text overages are incurred.8 Data usage
alerts are provided by AT&T before or after overages depending upon the service plan.9 As another
example, Sprint will send text or email alerts to certain subscribers on data plans before they reach their
data limits, but will call subscribers by phone only after they "significantly" exceed their voice or text
allotments10 Verizon Wireless provides alerts if a consumer is trending or has exceeded an allotment on
or about the 20th day of a billing cycle.11 Other service providers have similar inconsistencies.12 Thus,
providers are not consistent in the kinds of alerts they offer, or in the types of overages that are covered
by these alerts.13 While several mobile providers offer voluntary tools for consumers to set limits on their
usage, consumers are often unaware of how to access these tools, or even that such tools are available.14
As a result, the protections against bill shock that are currently afforded by providers have proven


5 As of December 2008, the Commission estimated that there were 277 million mobile wireless subscribers in the
United States. See Implementation of Section 6002(b) of the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1993; Annual
Report and Analysis of Competitive Market Conditions With Respect to Mobile Wireless, Including Commercial
Mobile Services,
WT Docket No. 09-66, Fourteenth Report, 25 FCC Rcd 11407 (2010) (14th Annual Wireless
Report
).
6 See Consumer Information and Disclosure; Truth-in-Billing and Billing Format; IP-Enabled Services, CG Docket
No. 09-158; CC Docket No. 98-870; WC Docket No. 04-36, Notice of Inquiry, 24 FCC Rcd 11380 (2009)
(Consumer Information NOI). We note that the Consumer Information NOI sought comment on a multitude of
broader disclosure issues including whether such requirements should apply to other services such as broadband
Internet access service and subscription video services. The Commission will address these disclosure issues at a
later date.
7 Comment Sought on Measures Designed to Assist U.S. Consumers to Avoid "Bill Shock," CG Docket No. 09-158,
Public Notice, 25 FCC Rcd 4838 (2010) (Bill Shock PN ).
8 See AT&T Bill Shock Comments at 4-8.
9 See AT&T Bill Shock Comments at 7.
10 See Sprint Bill Shock Comments at 5-6.
11 See Verizon Wireless Bill Shock Comments at 3.
12 See, e.g., CTIA Bill Shock Comments at 6-7; Consumer Action Bill Shock Reply Comments at Att. A.
13 See, e.g., Consumer Action Bill Shock Reply Comments at Att. A; CTIA Bill Shock Comments at 6-7. See also
Letter from Grant B. Spellmeyer, U.S. Cellular, to Marlene Dortch, FCC dated Sept. 30, 2010 (announcing a new
service that prevents voice overage charges from exceeding $50 for a National Single Line Belief Plan or $150 for
a Family Belief Plan. U.S. Cellular also has Overage Protection, which sends customers a text message when they
reach 75 percent of their allotted minutes or text messages, and again at 100 percent).
14 See infra note 87.
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insufficient for many consumers. That conclusion is evidenced by the record compiled in this proceeding
and the Commission's own complaint data which indicate that large numbers of mobile consumers
continue to experience bill shock each month.15 We note, for example, that approximately 10 percent of
all wireless billing rate complaints filed at the Commission relate to voice, text, or data overages, along
with overages due to roaming. In addition, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that
34 percent of wireless subscribers had experienced unexpected charges on their wireless bills.16
3. The costs to consumers resulting from these unexpected charges can be significant. For example,
two-thirds of bill shock complaints received by the Commission in the first half of 2010 were for amounts
of $100 or greater, and a few bill shock complaints even exceeded $10,000 in disputed charges.17
4. Consumers are entitled to baseline information that allows them to control the costs they incur for
mobile services.18 Bill shock often results from the challenges faced by consumers in monitoring ongoing
usage, the substantial charges incurred for exceeding monthly allotment limits, and a general lack of
awareness of the technological tools that allow consumers to control usage.19 Therefore, we propose
requirements that will provide consumers with timely information about their usage, such as voice or text
alerts when a subscriber is approaching or begins incurring overage or roaming charges, and clear
disclosure of the available tools subscribers can use to limit usage and review their usage history.
5. By undertaking these measures, we hope to empower consumers to avoid incurring unexpected
costly charges. We believe our proposals will allow consumers to understand the costs associated with
use of their mobile service plans and take advantage of safeguards against bill shock by providing them


15 Commission staff has conducted numerous ex parte meetings with industry and consumer groups to gain a
better understanding of the causes of and current protection against bill shock. See, e.g., Letter from Sarah F.
Leibman, T-Mobile, to Marlene H. Dortch, FCC dated June 3, 2010; Letter from Charles W. McKee, Sprint
Nextel, to Marlene H. Dortch, FCC dated July 8, 2010; Letter from Kathleen Grillo, Verizon Wireless, to Marlene
H. Dortch, FCC dated June 23, 2010; Letter from Matthew F. Wood, Media Access Project to Marlene Dortch,
FCC, dated Aug. 20, 2010.
16 See GAO Report to Congressional Requesters FCC Needs to Improve Oversight of Wireless Phone Service at
11 (2009) (GAO Report): http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d1034.pdf. As discussed, unexpected charges may
result in some cases for reasons other than lack of adequate usage information. GAO does not distinguish between
the underlying causes of the unexpected charges reported in their findings.
17 Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau, Federal Communications Commission, White Paper on Bill
Shock,
at 3 (Oct. 13, 2010). See also supra note 3.
18 See, e.g., Oren Bar-Gill & Rebecca Stone, Mobile Misperceptions, 23 Harv. J.L.& Tech. 49, 116 (2009). "The
challenge of keeping track of cumulative use has increased with the invention of multiple-limits plans. To help
consumers avoid this, carriers could be required to notify their subscribers when they are about to exceed the plan
limit."
19 Most postpaid mobile plans price their service offerings using a three part structure: 1) a monthly charge; 2) a
fixed amount of monthly allotted usage for which the subscriber incurs no additional charge; and 3) an overage
charge for any usage that exceeds the monthly allotment limit. Id. at 73. In most cases, charges for overage use
will substantially exceed that for regular plan use. For example, Consumer Reports indicates that overage fees for
exceeding the monthly allotment of voice minutes are charged "at least four times the regular per-minute plan
rate." See http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/magazine-archive/2010/september/money/cell-phone-
bills/overview/index.htm.
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with timely information to better manage those costs and thereby avoid incurring unexpected charges on
their bills.

II. BACKGROUND

A. Consumer Information NOI

6. On August 27, 2009, the Commission adopted the Consumer Information and Disclosure Notice
of Inquiry to explore ways to protect and empower consumers in determining their best choices among
the array of options available to them in the rapidly-evolving marketplace for communications services
and plans.20 In relevant part, the Consumer Information NOI sought comment on potential opportunities
for protecting and empowering American consumers by ensuring access to relevant information about
communications services.21 Among other things, the Commission noted that advances in technology,
including usage alerts delivered via text message, other usage controls, and online comparison tools, offer
"new opportunities to improve the kind and degree of information available to consumers."22 On the
issue of usage alerts, the Commission asked whether consumers can be provided with "more useful
information about their service usage once they are using a plan to prevent them from incurring
unexpected charges, or to adjust their plan as their usage patterns change."23 The Commission also
sought information concerning how widespread the practice of usage alerts is and, where such controls
are used, and whether the consumer is alerted prior to incurring additional charges, or only after the
consumer has exceeded some threshold level of charges or minutes.24
7. In response to the Consumer Information NOI, comments were filed by a broad range of
companies, state and consumer groups, and individual consumers. In relevant part, industry commenters
generally contend that the marketplace is competitive, creating incentives for providers to make available
consumer information and usage tools without regulatory mandates.25 In contrast, state and consumer
representatives argue that consumers are not receiving adequate information to make informed
decisions.26 Rather, they contend that most consumers are overpaying for service or paying for services
they don't want or need because they lack clear and readily available information to help them manage
the costs of their mobile service plans.27 Further, organizations representing consumers with disabilities


20 See generally Consumer Information NOI.
21 Consumer Information NOI, 24 FCC Rcd at 11382, para. 3.
22 Id. at 11381, para. 3.
23 Id. at 11394, para. 44.
24 Id.
25 See, e.g., AT&T NOI Comments at 5; CTIA NOI Comments at 2; Sprint NOI Comments at 9; Verizon NOI
Comments at 6; T-Mobile NOI Reply Comments at 1.
26 See, e.g., David Austin NOI Comment at 3-5; Cal. PUC NOI Comments at 5-6; Consumer Federation NOI
Comments at 7; DC PSC NOI Comments at 6; Senator Franken NOI Comments at 1; 25 State AGs NOI
Comments at 7-8.
27 See, e.g., BillShrink.com NOI Comments at 4 (80 percent of Americans are overpaying for wireless service);
CUB NOI Comments at 2 (average Illinois consumer is overpaying on local, long-distance and wireless bills by
more than $500 per year). See also Mobile Misperceptions, 23 Harv. J.L.& Tech. at 52 (noting that wireless
consumers frequently both overestimate and underestimate their actual usage needs by substantial amounts). The
(continued...)
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strongly urge that information not only be clear and conspicuous but also be accessible to and usable by
consumers with disabilities.28

B. Government Accountability Office (GAO) - Report on Wireless Service

8. On November 10, 2009, GAO released a report to Congress that addressed consumer satisfaction
and problems with wireless phone service.29 The report also discussed the FCC's and state utility
commissions' efforts to oversee that service.30 GAO cited billing, terms of the service contract, carriers'
explanation of their service at point of sale, call quality, and customer service as key aspects of wireless
phone service.31 Based on a GAO survey of adult wireless phone users, an estimated 84 percent of users
indicated that they are "very or somewhat satisfied."32 However, approximately 10 percent indicated they
are "very or somewhat dissatisfied" with their wireless phone service.33 In particular, GAO identified
specific areas of concern that included bills that contain unexpected charges.34 GAO estimates that 34
percent of wireless phone users received unexpected charges on their bills.35

C. Bill Shock Public Notice and Survey

9. On May 11, 2010, the Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau released a Public Notice
seeking to gather additional information on the feasibility of instituting usage alerts and cut-off
mechanisms similar to those required under the European Union (EU) regulations. These tools would
provide wireless voice, text, and data consumers in the United States a way to monitor, on a real-time
basis, their usage of a wireless communications service, as well as the various charges they may incur in
connection with such usage (e.g., charges for roaming services, and overage charges for voice, text, or
data plans).36 Specifically, the Commission sought comment on whether technological or other


(Continued from previous page)__
authors' data showed that two percent of subscribers used their minute allowances exactly. Seventeen percent of
subscribers exceeded their minute allowances, while 81 percent of subscribers used less than their minute
allowances. Moreover, subscribers generally exceeded or underutilized their minute allowances by substantial
amounts. Those who exceeded their minute allowances did so by an average of 33 percent. Those who did not, on
average, only used 47 percent of their allowances. While these conclusions are based on data from 2001-2003, we
have seen no evidence that they are disproved2 by more recent data on these issues.
28 See, e.g., Coalition of Organizations for Accessible Technology (COAT) NOI Comments at 3; TDI NOI
Comments at 2-3.
29 See GAO Report to Congressional Requesters FCC Needs to Improve Oversight of Wireless Phone Service
(2009) (GAO Report): http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d1034.pdf
30 Id.
31 Id. at 8-9.
32 Id. at 8.
33 Id.
34 Id. at 9.
35 Id. at 11. As noted above, GAO does not distinguish between underlying causes of these unexpected charges.
36 See Bill Shock PN.
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differences exist that would prevent wireless providers in this country from employing usage alerts
similar to those now required by the EU. The EU Regulations require that an alert be sent free of charge
and without undue delay to a roaming customer informing them of the fact that they will be subject to
roaming charges when making or receiving a call or when sending an SMS message when entering a
Member State other than their home network, including basic pricing information on the roaming
charges.37 The EU Regulations also require providers to send a notification when data roaming services
have reached 80% of an agreed financial or volume limit.38 When this financial or volume limit is
exceeded, a notification must be sent to the customer indicating the procedure to be followed if the
customer wishes to continue provision of this service.39 If the customer does not respond, the provider
must cease to provide and charge the roaming customer for regulated data roaming services until the
customer requests the continued provision of service.40 In addition, Commission staff has conducted
extensive ex parte meetings with representatives of the wireless industry to gain a better understanding of
the currently available technological tools to address the issue of bill shock.41
10. In response to the Bill Shock PN, industry commenters contend that mandatory usage alerts and
cut-off mechanisms are unnecessary because the wireless industry provides consumers with an array of
tools to avoid bill shock. These include usage controls, online tools to monitor and set limits on usage,
text messages, and dialing shortcuts from mobile devices to check usage history and account balances.42
Some providers note that they also offer various usage alerts for certain services.43 In addition, industry
commenters believe that an industry-wide regulation will harm consumers by limiting choice and
diminishing incentives to develop additional tools.44 Finally, the industry contends that it would be costly
to adjust existing billing systems to implement any new usage alert requirements.45 However, state and
consumer commenters contend that bill shock remains a significant problem for consumers despite the


37 See generally Regulation (European Communities) No. 544/2009, Art. 6, of the European Parliament and of the
Council of 18 June 2009, amending Regulation (EC) No. 717/2007 on roaming on public mobile telephone
networks within the Community and Directive 2002/21/EC on a common regulatory framework for electronic
communications networks and services (EU Regulation).
38 EU Regulation, Art. 6a.
39 Id.
40 Id.
41 See, e.g., Letter from Sarah F. Leibman, T-Mobile, to Marlene H. Dortch, FCC dated June 3, 2010; Letter from
Charles W. McKee, Sprint Nextel, to Marlene H. Dortch, FCC dated July 8, 2010; Letter from Kathleen Grillo,
Verizon Wireless, to Marlene H. Dortch, FCC dated June 23, 2010.
42 See, e.g., AT&T Bill Shock Comments at 2-8; CTIA Bill Shock Comments at 3-9; Sprint Bill Shock Comments
at 3-7; T-Mobile Bill Shock Comments at 3-7; Verizon Wireless Bill Shock Comments at 2-12.
43 See, e.g., AT&T Bill Shock Comments at 2 (smartphone data plan users receive usage alerts); CTIA Bill Shock
Comments at 6-7; Sprint Bill Shock Comments at 5 (customers receive a courtesy call the first time they incur
substantial overages); Verizon Wireless Bill Shock Comments at 3 (customers that have exceeded or are trending
to exceed their monthly allotments by the 20th day of the billing cycle receive a text message).
44 See, e.g., CTIA Bill Shock Comments at 13; Sprint Bill Shock Comments at 15; Verizon Wireless Bill Shock
Reply Comments at 3.
45 See, e.g., RCA Bill Shock Comments at 5-6; Verizon Wireless Bill Shock Reply Comments at 3-4.
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availability of some usage and monitoring tools.46 These commenters argue that the currently available
tools for addressing bill shock are limited by additional fees, self-enrollment requirements, active
monitoring requirements that require subscribers to continually check usage balances online or via the
handset device, and inconsistent application across mobile providers and plans.47 They believe mandatory
requirements should be adopted to protect consumers from unexpected charges. Specifically, these
commenters contend the Commission should require all wireless providers to supply free message alerts
to consumers notifying them if they are approaching the limit of their plan's voice minutes, text messages,
or data usage; free message alerts to consumers notifying them once they exceed their monthly allotment;
and free alerts including pricing information if a customer roams onto another provider's network and
will incur additional charges.48
11. On May 26, 2010, the Commission released the findings of an agency survey on the consumer
mobile experience. The survey indicated that 30 million Americans have experienced a sudden increase in
their monthly bill that is not caused by a change in service plan.49 Of these 30 million consumers, 84
percent said their mobile carrier did not contact them when they were about to exceed their allowed
minutes, text messages, or data downloads and 88 percent said their carrier did not contact them after
their bill suddenly increased.

D. Voluntary Wireless Industry Standards

12. In 2003, CTIA an industry trade group representing wireless communications providers and a
number of wireless carriers voluntarily adopted a "Consumer Code" to facilitate the provision of accurate
information to consumers by wireless service providers.50 The CTIA Consumer Code requires, among
other things, that signatory carriers agree to take certain steps to disclose rates and terms of service to
consumers.51 Carriers that sign the Code are allowed to display a "Seal of Wireless Quality/Consumer
Information" if they certify each year that they are in compliance with the Code.52


46 See, e.g. Consumer Action Bill Shock Comments at 3-4; Consumers Union Bill Shock Comments at 4-6; Mass.
AG Bill Shock Comments at 6-8; Montgomery County Bill Shock Comments at 1; NASUCA Reply Bill Shock
Comments at 2-3.
47 See, e.g., Consumer Action Bill Shock Comments at 3-4; Consumers Union Bill Shock Comments at 5;
Montgomery County Bill Shock Comments at 1; Consumer Action Bill Shock Reply Comments at 4-5.
48 See, e.g., Consumer Union Bill Shock Comments at 7-9; Mass. AG Bill Shock Comments at 11; UCAN Bill
Shock Comments at 13; Consumer Mark Gaber at 1-2.
49 See Bill Shock Survey.
50 See http://www.ctia.org/content/index.cfm/AID/10352 (CTIA Consumer Code).
51 CTIA Consumer Code, Item One. These disclosures include: calling area; monthly access fee; number of
airtime minutes; any nights and weekend minutes or other differing charges for different time periods; charges for
excess minutes; per-minute long distance charges; per-minute roaming charges; whether additional taxes, fees or
surcharges apply; amount or range of any such fees that are collected and retained by the carrier; whether a fixed-
term contract is required and its duration; any activation or initiation fees; and any early termination fee and the
trial period.
52 As of April 19, 2010, there were thirty-one CMRS providers listed as CTIA Consumer Code participants.
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13. In July 2010, CTIA announced updates to the Code which will become effective on January 1,
2011.53 These include disclosure of data allowances offered in a service plan, whether there are any
prohibitions on data service usage and disclosure of whether there are network management practices that
will have a material impact on the customer's wireless data experience. The Code also states that prepaid
service providers must disclose the period of time during which any prepaid balance is available for use.54
However, the updated code does not include any requirement that carriers provide their customers with
usage alerts or ways to set limits on their usage voluntarily.

III. DISCUSSION

A. The Need for Improved Usage Information

14. The record in this proceeding shows that consumers will benefit from receiving baseline usage
alerts and information that allows them to avoid unexpected roaming and overage charges.55 In proposing
to require that providers disclose this information to consumers, our goal is to ensure that all consumers
have access to baseline information to help them manage the costs associated with mobile service in an
informed and timely way to avoid unexpected charges. Mobile service providers remain free to tailor
additional transparency efforts to their subscribers' needs as they see fit.
15. The record shows that bill shock affects millions of American users of mobile services. As
discussed above, the Commission's recent Bill Shock Survey found that 30 million Americans have
experienced unexpected increases in their monthly bills that are not caused by changes in their service
plans.56 The recent GAO Report cited above confirms that large numbers of wireless consumers continue
to experience unexpected charges on their bills.57 Further, that report found that one in five customers
who contacted customer service was dissatisfied with their carriers' efforts to resolve the problem.58
Comments in this proceeding from state and consumer groups confirm that bill shock continues to be a
substantial problem despite the availability of certain tools offered by some providers.59 Moreover, the
Better Business Bureau received more complaints relating to the wireless industry than any other industry
in 2009.60 Even in those instances where the unexpected charge is eventually credited or refunded, either


53 See http://www.ctia.org/content/index.cfm/AID/10549.
54 Id.
55 See infra Sec. III.B.
56 See Bill Shock Survey. Specifically, the Bill Shock survey found that 17% of American adults with a personal cell
phone said that at one time their cell phone bill increased suddenly from one month to the next, even though they
had not changed their calling or texting plans. As noted above, unexpected increases in wireless bills may occur for
a variety of reasons, some of which extend beyond the scope of this proceeding.
57 See GAO Report at 9, 11.
58 The GAO survey found that 21 percent of wireless users were very or somewhat dissatisfied with how the
carrier handled problems. Id. at 11.
59 See, e.g. Consumer Action Bill Shock Comments at 3-4; Consumers Union Bill Shock Comments at 4-6; Mass.
AG Bill Shock Comments at 4-8; Montgomery County Bill Shock Comments at 1.
60 See Better Business Bureau 2009 Annual Report.
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by the service provider or via our complaint process, consumers may expend substantial time and face
potential credit risks, legal costs, or service interruptions before resolving the disputed charges.61
16. The record supports a finding that mobile service providers are not providing consumers with
complete information concerning the tools available to manage their usage and control their costs.62 To
the extent that providers offer methods to monitor and cap usage to avoid bill shock, consumers are often
unaware of these tools.63 Usage alerts that are currently provided vary substantially between service
providers and are inconsistent in application among various types of mobile services and plans.64 In many
cases those alerts may be sent only after the consumer has incurred overage charges.65 We believe
consumers will benefit from automatic notifications that will empower them to make informed decisions
regarding their mobile usage prior to incurring substantial overage or roaming charges.
17. Although voluntary industry efforts such as the CTIA Consumer Code provide for certain
disclosures from its signatory providers, they lack full industry participation, objective oversight, and
enforceability, and do not, even with updates to become effective on January 1, 2011, include some key
tools that can be effective in preventing bill shock.66 Because many consumers continue to experience
bill shock, it appears that voluntary efforts alone have proven insufficient to address the problem. Nor do
we believe the recent updates to the CTIA Consumer Code, the first since its formulation in 2003,
significantly alter this finding, since they do not address the provision of usage alerts and controls or other
tools to address bill shock specifically.67 Although we acknowledge CTIA's efforts to improve consumer
disclosure practices, for the reasons noted, we believe the record supports the conclusion that voluntary
efforts have proven insufficient thus far to adequately protect consumers from bill shock.

B. Baseline Usage Information

1. Usage Alerts
18. In both the Consumer Information NOI and Bill Shock PN, the Commission sought comment on
advances in technology, including usage alerts delivered via text message, other usage controls, and
online comparison tools that may offer new opportunities to improve the kind and degree of information


61 See, e.g., Mark P. Gaber Bill Shock Comments at 1 ("when `bill shock' occurs, it can be very disruptive to
consumers' finances and require considerable time on the phone trying to resolve the issue"); David K. Schandler
Bill Shock Comments at 1.
62 See infra Sec. III.B.2.
63 See, e.g., Consumer Action Bill Shock Comments at 3 (many users will be unaware that the service exists or
how to enroll); Consumers Union Bill Shock Comments at 6 (noting that many consumers have no idea that usage
information is available); Montgomery County Bill Shock Comments at 1 (indicating that consumers are rarely
aware of their ability to set blocks and limits on accounts).
64 See, e.g., Consumer Action Bill Shock Reply Comments, Att. A (describing several different notification
options available from national wireless providers). See also infra para. 19.
65 See supra para. 2.
66 See, e.g., Consumer Federation NOI Comments at 17-20; NASUCA NOI Comments at 33-38; NASUCA Reply
NOI Comments at 31-33.
67 See, e.g., Consumer Information NOI, 24 FCC Rcd at 11381, para. 3; Bill Shock PN.
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available to consumers. Specifically, the Commission sought to gather information on the feasibility of
instituting usage alerts similar to those required under the EU regulations68 that would provide wireless
voice, text, and data consumers in the United States a way to monitor, on a real-time basis, their usage of
a wireless communications service, as well as the various charges they may incur in connection with such
usage. 69 In response to those requests, a number of commenters indicate that such technological tools are
not only feasible, but are currently being utilized by a number of American wireless providers - albeit in
an inconsistent manner.70 These tools are offered not only by the four largest carriers but by some smaller
ones as well. For example, U.S. Cellular sends its customers a free text message alert when either their
voice minutes or text messages are near or at the point where they will incur overage charges.71 Although
industry and consumer groups diverge in their opinion as to whether usage alerts should be mandated,
there is no known technological limitation on record that would prohibit mobile providers from
implementing usage alerts.72
19. As discussed above, the record developed in response to the Consumer Information NOI and Bill
Shock PN and Survey persuades us that consumers face significant challenges in monitoring wireless
usage and protecting themselves from substantial overage charges for exceeding their monthly allotment
of voice minutes, text, and data. Although some wireless providers offer technological tools that allow
consumers to limit usage, the effectiveness of these offerings is limited by opt-in requirements and, in
some cases, additional fees for such offerings.73 As discussed, many consumers are also unaware of such
tools or how to access them. In addition, notification alerts currently available in the market today vary
widely between service providers and by type of service covered.74
20. We propose that mobile providers actively provide consumers with notification messages to assist
them in managing the costs of using their service and ensure that subscribers are not shocked by overage
or roaming charges. Specifically, we propose that mobile providers provide notification when a
subscriber is approaching their plan's allotted limit for voice, text, or data usage. We seek comment on
whether such notifications should be provided in "real time," including any technical limitations or other
considerations that should be taken into consideration when reviewing this issue. How should such
notifications be provided in the case of multi-line family plans? We seek comment on the most effective


68 See generally EU Regulation, Art 6.
69 See Bill Shock PN at 2.
70 See, e.g. Acision Bill Shock Comments at 1; AT&T Bill Shock Comments at 4 and 7; Bridgewater Bill Shock
Comments at 1; Mass. AG Bill Shock Comments at 10; Ericsson Bill Shock Comments at 4; Sprint Bill Shock
Comments at 5; T-Mobile Bill Shock Comments at 4-5.
71 See U.S. Cellular website describing overage protection at
http://www.uscellular.com/uscellular/common/common.jsp?path=/overage-protection/index.html.
72 See, e.g., Acision Bill Shock Comments at 1 (no major technological or other differences that would prevent
wireless providers from implementing usage alerts); Bridgewater Bill Shock Comments at 1 (introduction of these
tools is technically feasible with solutions that are available today) Ericsson Bill Shock Comments at 4 (offers
solutions that can generate real-time alerts based on billing or usage criteria).
73 See, e.g., Consumer Action Bill Shock Comments at 3-4; Consumers Union Bill Shock Comments at 5;
Montgomery County Bill Shock Comments at 1; Consumer Action Bill Shock Reply Comments at 4-5.
74 See, e.g., Consumer Action Bill Shock Reply Comments, Att. A (describing several different notification
options available from national wireless providers).
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way to provide this notification to consumers, including methods such as providing voice or text alerts.75
In addition, we seek comment on whether we should establish a precise usage level at which this initial
notification message would be triggered. For example, the new EU regulations require that wireless
providers notify a consumer using a data roaming service when the consumer has reached 80 percent of
an agreed upon limit.76 Would a single notification at the 80 percent usage mark be sufficient to provide
consumers with reasonable notice that they are approaching a limitation for voice, text, or data usage or
should additional notifications be sent to the consumer at the 90 or 95 percent mark of their monthly
allotments? In reviewing this issue, we seek comment on the utility of providing multiple usage alerts to
the consumer against the potential burdens to the wireless providers particularly smaller providers - who
must supply them. As noted below, several mobile providers currently provide customers with tools to
block overage use.77 We seek comment on whether there are aspects of the existing usage alert systems
or other tools that have proven particularly helpful to consumers in avoiding bill shock that we should
consider incorporating in any rule we adopt to reduce bill shock. Alternatively, are there aspects of those
tools that have reduced their effectiveness for consumers and should not be adopted? We also seek
comment on what we can learn from the experience with bill shock regulation in the European Union.
21. In addition, we propose that mobile providers supply a notification message to consumers once
they reach their monthly allotment limit and begin incurring overage charges. Thus, when a consumer is
about to exceed the established monetary or volume limit for a voice, text, or data plan, the provider
would be required to send a one-time notification explaining that the consumer is beginning to incur
charges for service in excess of their normal rates. Consumers receiving such a notification can then
decide to use some alternative method of communication, such as a wireline phone, to complete the
communication or postpone until a later date when they may avoid the overage charge, perhaps by
changing to a plan with a higher limit.78 A few commenters have suggested that this message contain
specific information conveying the exact cost consumers will incur once they exceed their monthly
allotment and ask the subscriber to opt-in before allowing the subscriber to continue using the service.79
We seek comment on whether it is sufficient to notify consumers that they have begun incurring overage
charges or whether specific cost information and cut off mechanisms such as these would also be useful
to consumers or create additional challenges. In that regard, we seek to balance consumer protections and
expectations with the costs and technical limitations that might arise by imposing any additional


75 We note that section 227(b)(1)(A) of the Act prohibits certain categories of automated calls absent an
emergency or the "prior express consent" of the called party. Specifically, this provision prohibits the use of
automatic telephone dialing systems (autodialers) or artificial or prerecorded messages when calling: emergency
telephone lines, health care facilities, telephone numbers assigned to wireless services, and services for which the
called party is charged for the call. Currently, the Commission's rules allow such calls where the caller has an
established business relationship with the called party. In an effort to harmonize our rules with the FTC, the
Commission has sought comment on whether "prior express consent" should be obtained in writing from the
consumer. However, the Commission has issued no final rule which changes the current interpretation. See Rules
and Regulations Implementing the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991
, CG Docket No. 02-278, Notice of
Proposed Rulemaking, 25 FCC Rcd 1501 (2010).
76 EU Regulation, Art. 6(a)(2).
77 See infra para. 24.
78 See Mobile Misperceptions, 23 Harv. J.L.& Tech. at 119.
79 See, e.g., Consumer Action Bill Shock Comments at 6; Consumers Union Bill Shock Comments at 7-9; Mass.
AG Bill Shock Comments at 10; UCAN Bill Shock Comments at 13.
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requirements. In this regard, are there concerns or issues we should consider with respect to smaller,
regional and/or rural mobile providers? Moreover, we do not intend for any alert system to hamper the
ability of consumers to complete critical voice or data communications such as access to E911, and we
seek comment on how to avoid such effects. In addition, we seek comment on whether consumers should
be allowed to opt-out if they determine that they do not want to receive these mandatory usage alerts from
their mobile service provider.
22. Similarly, we propose that mobile service providers supply a notification message to consumers
when they are about to incur international or other roaming charges in excess of their normal rates. The
record in this proceeding indicates that many service providers make available information on how to
avoid international roaming charges, but few provide direct alerts to inform customers when they are
incurring international roaming charges.80 We seek comment on the technical feasibility of providing
such international alerts, including whether such alerts require, in any way, the international provider's
cooperation or any changes to its network. How often should such international alerts be provided? For
example, should an alert be provided every time a consumer is about to incur international roaming
charges? Should we also require mobile providers to better disclose how to turn off any mobile device
function that cause them to incur roaming charges?81 Several industry commenters contend that domestic
roaming in the United States presents fewer difficulties to consumers because there is little or no domestic
roaming for many subscribers.82 To what extent, if any, should this factor into our analysis? For
example, should any roaming notification requirement be limited to international situations? Or should
notification also be required for regional providers that use partners for domestic roaming? In addition,
we seek comment on whether such notifications should include the applicable rates and associated
charges for international or roaming charges, including any technical limitations particularly for smaller
providers of providing this level of information in real time.
23. We recognize that mobile providers may need to revise their existing systems to comply with a
mandatory usage alert requirement that may differ from their current practice. We therefore seek
comment on the length of time that would be required for mobile providers to implement any such usage
alert requirement based upon a proposal that requires providers to notify subscribers when they are
approaching and then reach the 100 percent threshold mark of their monthly usage allotment. Based on
the comments received in response to the Bill Shock PN, it may be easier for the national providers to start
providing alerts.83 As a result, we seek comment on whether there are concerns, issues or cost
considerations to implement such usage alerts that we should consider with respect to smaller, regional
and/or rural mobile providers. Is there a need for varying implementation schedules between the larger
and smaller, regional and/or rural providers to alleviate the burden for smaller providers? If so, what are


80 See, e.g., Consumer Action Bill Shock Reply Comments at 8; CTIA Bill Shock Comments at 6-7 (noting that
AT&T, Sprint, and U.S. Cellular do not provide international roaming alerts).
81 See, e.g., EU Regulation, Art. 6a ("providers shall explain to their customers, in a clear and easily
understandable manner, how to switch off these automatic data roaming connections in order to avoid uncontrolled
consumption of data roaming services").
82 See, e.g., AT&T Bill Shock Comments at 8; Sprint Bill Shock Comments at 10-11; Verizon Wireless Bill Shock
Comments at 22. See also 14th Annual Wireless Report, 25 FCC Rcd at 11489, para. 124 ("From a customer
perspective, many service plans now include nationwide roaming at no additional cost to subscribers").
83 See, e.g., AT&T Bill Shock Comments at 7-8; CTIA Bill Shock Comments at 5; RCA Bill Shock Comments at
5; Sprint Bill Shock Comments at 5; T-Mobile Bill Shock Comments at 4-5; Verizon Wireless Bill Shock
Comments at 8.
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the exact timeframes by which providers could modify their existing systems to comply with this
requirement? Alternatively, should the Commission consider exempting smaller, regional and/or rural
providers from any usage alert or roaming requirement due to the costs such a requirement might impose
on them? If so, what size providers should this exemption apply to?84
2. Methods for Reviewing and Capping Usage
24. Some mobile providers currently offer technological tools that allow consumers to monitor usage
balances and set limitations on usage. For example, several providers offer tools that enable consumers to
review online or from their handset itself usage history over time and balances in the current month.85 In
addition, several providers offer consumers the ability to set limits on voice, text or data usage either for
the entire plan or for individual members of a family plan to preclude incurring overage or other
charges.86 However, consumers are often unaware of how to access these tools or even that such tools are
available.87 The record compiled in this proceeding confirms that consumers face significant challenges in
monitoring mobile usage and protecting themselves from substantial overage charges for exceeding their
monthly allotment of voice minutes, text, and data. Therefore, we propose that mobile providers make
clear, conspicuous and ongoing disclosure of any tools they offer which allow subscribers to either limit
usage or monitor usage history.88 We seek additional information about the methods available for
monitoring usage balances and ways to limit usage available to subscribers of smaller, regional, and rural
mobile providers. Specifically, we seek comment on the best methods to ensure that consumers are made
aware of the available tools for monitoring usage balances and limiting usage, how to access these tools
and any applicable charges.89 For example, should mobile providers be required to provide this


84 See, e.g., the Small Business Administration definition which deems a wireless business "small" if it has 1,500
or fewer employees. 13 C.F.R 121.201, NAICS Code 517210. See also Revision to the Commission's Rules to
Ensure Compatibility with Enhanced 911 Emergency Calling Systems
, CC Docket No. 94-102, Order to Stay, 17
FCC Rcd 14841, 1484 at para. 7 and 14847-48 at paras. 22-23 (defining categories of "Tier II" and "Tier III"
wireless carriers).
85 See, e.g., AT&T Bill Shock Comments at 6 (customers can dial *MIN# to check remaining minutes); CTIA Bill
Shock Comments at 6-7; Sprint Bill Shock Comments at 5 (customers can dial *4 from their handset to check
minutes, texts, and data used).
86 See, e.g., CTIA Bill Shock Comments at 6-7.
87 See, e.g., Consumer Action Bill Shock Comments at 3 (many users will be unaware that the service exists or
how to enroll); Consumers Union Bill Shock Comments at 6 (noting that many consumers have no idea that usage
information is available); Montgomery County Bill Shock Comments at 1 (indicating that consumers are rarely
aware of their ability to set blocks and limits on accounts).
88 We note that in the context of the Commission's truth-in-billing rules that "clear and conspicuous" is defined as
"notice that would be apparent to the reasonable consumer." See 47 C.F.R. 64.2401(e).
89 The record in this proceeding confirms that customers of the four largest wireless carriers can access usage
history via their handset devices and online accounts for free. See AT&T Bill Shock Comments at 6; Sprint Bill
Shock Comments at 5; T-Mobile Bill Shock Comments at 5-6; Verizon Wireless Bill Shock Comments at 4-6.
However, there is often a monthly charge associated with capping usage. See, e.g., Consumers Action Bill Shock
Comments at 4; Verizon Wireless Bill Shock Comments at 7.
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information on their bills or in annual bill inserts?90 What would be the most cost effective way to better
ensure that consumers have access to this information and make full use of the currently available tools
that can protect subscribers from bill shock? In particular, we seek comment on these issues as they relate
to consumers with disabilities. What is the best method to minimize costs for smaller, regional and/or
rural mobile providers while ensuring their customers have access to this information? We seek comment
on how effective the existing usage controls have been in helping consumers avoid bill shock. We also
seek comment on the extent to which the effectiveness of usage controls is impacted by the conditions
under which they are provided to consumers. To the extent that existing usage control tools have proven
effective in addressing bill shock, we seek comment on whether we should explore the possibility of
mandating that all mobile service providers offer consumers the means to set their own usage limits. For
example, should consumers be allowed to cap their usage in advance at a level specified by the customer
(either for individual users or the entire account) or allowed to opt-out entirely of certain services (e.g.
text messages) so that they cannot incur charges for any service that they don't want.91 Would such a
requirement be overly burdensome for smaller, regional and rural providers?
3. Prepaid Services
25. We seek comment on whether prepaid mobile services should be exempt from any usage alert
requirements that might evolve from this proceeding to address consumer bill shock. In contrast to a
postpaid service, in which customers pay their phone bills after they have incurred charges, a prepaid
service requires customers to pay for service in advance. 92 This approach generally alleviates the need
for a service provider to extend credit to its prepaid customers. In some cases, providers have tailored
prepaid offerings to suit segments of the market that do not or cannot get a traditional postpaid service
plan, particularly the youth segment.93 Prepaid services include traditional, pay-as-you-go services, in
which customers buy minutes ahead of time on a card, as well as unlimited prepaid services, in which
customers pay in advance for unlimited voice and/or data services each month with no long-term contract.
A few commenters in this proceeding assert that with the prepaid service option there are, by definition,
no sudden increases in the total consumer bill, and therefore that prepaid service providers should not be
subject to any obligations aimed at preventing bill shock.94 In contrast, some consumer groups have
commented that usage alerts would help traditional prepaid customers manage their usage and avoid the
need to pay for additional minutes once they reach their prepaid limit.95 We seek comment on these
analyses, including those situations in which prepaid service users might benefit from receiving usage
alerts. We ask that parties distinguish between traditional, pay-as-you-go and unlimited prepaid services
in their comments.


90 See, e.g., 47 C.F.R. 64.1200(g)(1) (requiring annual notice, via an insert in the bill, of the right to give or
revoke a notification of an objection to receiving telephone solicitations pursuant to the national do-not-call
database).
91 As noted above, we do not intend for any user cap to hamper the ability of consumers to complete critical
communications such as access to E911.
92 See, e.g., Leap/Cricket Bill Shock Comments at 2; MetroPCS Bill Shock at 3.
93 14th Annual Wireless Report, 25 FCC Rcd at 11473-75, paras. 98-101.
94 See, e.g., CTIA Bill Shock Comments at 12; Leap/Cricket Bill Shock Comments at 2; MetroPCS Bill Shock 3.
95 See, e.g., NASUCA NOI Reply Comments at 37-38.
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IV. SCOPE OF COVERED ENTITIES AND SERVICES AND LEGAL AUTHORITY

26. We seek comment on the types of wireless services that should be covered by our proposals.
Should any rules we adopt apply to all communications services provided by mobile wireless providers,
including voice, text, and data services? Should providers of mobile data services that do not also offer
Commercial Mobile Radio Service (CMRS) be included? Although mobile data services may be
provided by companies that are also CMRS carriers, such services may also be provided by entities that
do not offer any CMRS. Therefore, we seek comment on whether the scope of covered entities should be
broader than CMRS providers. On the other hand, are there services for which these rules are not
necessary?
27. Next, we seek comment on the best sources of authority for the Commission to adopt bill shock
related obligations for the different types of mobile wireless services. As noted in the Roaming Order, 96
several provisions of Title III provide the Commission authority to establish license conditions in the
public interest. For example, Section 301 provides the Commission with authority to regulate "radio
communications" and "transmission of energy by radio."97 Under Section 303, the Commission has the
authority to establish operational obligations for licensees that further the goals and requirements of the
Act if the obligations are in the "public convenience, interest, or necessity" and not inconsistent with
other provisions of law.98 Section 303 also authorizes the Commission, subject to what the "public
interest, convenience, or necessity requires," to "[p]rescribe the nature of the service to be rendered by
each class of licensed stations and each station within any class."99 Section 307(a) likewise authorizes the
issuance of licenses "if public convenience, interest, or necessity will be served thereby."100 Section 316
provides a similar test for new conditions on existing licenses, authorizing such modifications if "in the
judgment of the Commission such action will promote the public interest, convenience, and necessity."101
Application of these provisions is not affected by whether the service using the spectrum is a
telecommunications service or information service under the Act.102


96 See Reexamination of Roaming Obligations of Commercial Mobile Radio Service Providers and Other
Providers of Mobile Data Services
, WT Docket No. 05-265, Order on Reconsideration and Second Further Notice
of Proposed Rulemaking, 25 FCC Rcd 4181, 4212, paras. 65-66 (seeking comment on the proposition that if
roaming arrangements are telecommunications services, they are subject to our authority under Title II and Title
III. If they are information services, the Commission has the authority to promulgate roaming requirements under
Title III and other provisions).
97 See 47 U.S.C. 301.
98 See 47 U.S.C. 303(b) (stating that if the "public convenience, interest, or necessity requires" the Commission
shall "(r)...prescribe such restrictions and conditions, not inconsistent with law, as may be necessary to carry out
the provisions of this Act").
99 47 U.S.C. 303(b).
100 47 U.S.C. 307(a).
101 47 U.S.C. 316(a).
102 See, e.g., Appropriate Regulatory Treatment for Broadband Access to the Internet Over Wireless Networks,
WT Docket No. 07-53, Declaratory Ruling, 22 FCC Rcd 5901, 5915, para. 36 (Wireless Broadband Internet
Access Clarification Order
). Thus, in the Wireless Broadband Internet Access Clarification Order, the
Commission found that wireless broadband Internet access, although an information service, continues to be
subject to obligations promulgated pursuant to Title III. Id.
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28. In addition, to the extent that some of the mobile services covered by the rules promulgated in
this proceeding are common carrier or telecommunications services, what other provisions of the Act, in
Title II or elsewhere, would provide the Commission additional authority to impose bill shock-related
obligations? What other authority-related issues should the Commission consider?

V. PROCEDURAL MATTERS

A. Ex Parte Presentations

29. The proceeding this Notice initiates shall be treated as a "permit-but-disclose" proceeding in
accordance with the Commission's ex parte rules.103 Persons making oral ex parte presentations are
reminded that memoranda summarizing the presentations must contain summaries of the substance of the
presentations and not merely a listing of the subjects discussed. More than a one or two sentence
description of the views and arguments presented generally is required.104 Other requirements pertaining
to oral and written presentations are set forth in section 1.1206(b) of the Commission's rules.105

B. Filing of Comments and Reply Comments

30. Pursuant to sections 1.415 and 1.419 of the Commission's rules, 47 C.F.R. 1.415, 1.419,
interested parties may file comments and reply comments on or before the dates indicated on the first
page of this document. When filing comments or reply comments, please reference

CG Docket No. 10-
207

. Comments may be filed using: (1) the Commission's Electronic Comment Filing System (ECFS),
(2) the Federal Government's eRulemaking Portal, or (3) by filing paper copies. See Electronic Filing of
Documents in Rulemaking Proceedings
, 63 Fed. Reg. 24121 (1998).

Electronic Filers: Comments may be filed electronically using the Internet by accessing
the ECFS: http://www.fcc.gov/cgb/ecfs/ or the Federal eRulemaking Portal:
http://www.regulations.gov. Filers should follow the instructions provided on the website for
submitting comments.

Paper Filers: Parties who choose to file by paper must file an original and four copies of
each filing. If more than one docket or rulemaking number appears in the caption of this
proceeding, filers must submit two additional copies for each additional docket or rulemaking
number. Filings can be sent by hand or messenger delivery, by commercial overnight courier, or
by first-class or overnight U.S. Postal Service mail. All filings must be addressed to the
Commission's Secretary, Office of the Secretary, Federal Communications Commission.

All hand-delivered or messenger-delivered paper filings for the Commission's Secretary
must be delivered to FCC Headquarters at 445 12th Street, SW, Room TW-A325, Washington,
DC 20554. All hand deliveries must be held together with rubber bands or fasteners. Any
envelopes must be disposed of before entering the building.

Commercial overnight mail (other than U.S. Postal Service Express Mail and Priority
Mail) must be sent to 9300 East Hampton Drive, Capitol Heights, MD 20743.


103 47 C.F.R. 1.200 et seq.
104 See 47 C.F.R. 1.1206(b)(2).
105 47 C.F.R. 1.1206(b).
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U.S. Postal Service first-class, Express, and Priority mail must be addressed to 445 12th
Street, SW, Washington DC 20554.
31. Persons with Disabilities: To request materials in accessible formats for people with disabilities
(braille, large print, electronic files, audio format), send an email to fcc504@fcc.gov or call the Consumer
and Governmental Affairs Bureau at 202-418-0530 (voice) or 202-418-0432 (TTY). This Notice of
Proposed Rulemaking
also can be downloaded in Word and Portable Document Formats (PDF) at
www.fcc.gov. Contact the FCC to request reasonable accommodations for filing comments (e.g.,
accessible format documents) by e-mail at: FCC504@fcc.gov; phone: 202-418-0530; or TTY: 202-418-
0432.

C. Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis

32. As required by the Regulatory Flexibility Act of 1980, as amended (RFA), the Commission has
prepared an Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (IRFA) of the possible significant economic impact on
small entities of the policies and rules addressed in this document.106 The IRFA is set forth in Appendix
C. Written public comments are requested on this IRFA. Comments must be identified as responses to
the IRFA and must be filed by the deadlines for comments on the Notice provided on or before the dates
indicated on the first page of this Notice.

D. Paperwork Reduction Act

33. This document contains proposed new information collection requirements. The Commission, as
part of its continuing effort to reduce paperwork burdens, invites the general public and the Office of
Management and Budget (OMB) to comment on the information collection requirements contained in this
document, as required by the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995.107 In addition, pursuant to the Small
Business Paperwork Relief Act of 2002,108 we seek specific comment on how we might "further reduce
the information collection burden for small business concerns with fewer than 25 employees."109

VI. ORDERING CLAUSES

34. Accordingly, IT IS ORDERED that, pursuant to the authority contained in sections 1-2, 4, 201,
258, 301, 303, 332 and 403 of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, 47 U.S.C. 151-152, 154,
201, 258, 301, 303, 332 and 403, this Notice of Proposed Rulemaking IS ADOPTED.
35. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the Commission's Consumer and Governmental Affairs
Bureau, Reference Information Center, SHALL SEND a copy of this Notice of Proposed Rulemaking,
including the Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis, to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small
Business Administration.


106 See 5 U.S.C. 603.
107 Pub. L. No. 104-13.
108 Pub. L. No. 107-198.
109 44 U.S.C. 3506(c)(4).
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FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION
Marlene H. Dortch
Secretary
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APPENDIX A

Proposed Rules for Public Comment

The Federal Communications Commission proposes to amend Part __ of Title 47 of the Code of
Federal Regulations as follows:

___ Usage Alerts and Information for Mobile Services.
(a) This rule shall apply to providers of mobile services as defined in paragraph (b) of this section. The
purpose of this rule is to require mobile service providers to provide consumers with timely, baseline
information relating to their monthly usage so that consumers can avoid unexpected overage charges.
(b) [Reserved for definition of mobile service provider for purposes of this section].
(c) Usage Notifications.
Mobile service providers shall provide notification alerts when:
(1) subscribers are approaching an allotted limit for voice, text, and data usage.
(2) subscribers have reached their monthly allotment limit and begin incurring overage charges
for any subsequent use of that service.
(3) subscribers will incur international or roaming charges that are not covered by their monthly
plans, and notification if they will be charged at higher than normal rates.
(d) Mobile service providers shall make clear, conspicuous, and ongoing disclosure of any tools or
services they offer which allow subscribers to set usage limits or monitor usage balances, including any
applicable charges for those services. This information should be made available in a manner that is
accessible to and usable by consumers with disabilities, in accordance with section 716 of the
Communications Act of 1934, as amended (Act), and the Commission's rules implementing sections 255
and 716 of the Act.

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APPENDIX B

Consumer Information and Disclosure Notice of Inquiry

List of Commenters

The following parties have filed comments in response to the August 28, 2009 Consumer Information and
Disclosure Notice of Inquiry:
Commenter
Abbreviation
American Association of People with Disabilities
AAPD*

American Council of the Blind

American Council

AT&T Inc.
AT&T*
David Austin
David Austin
Billing Concepts, Inc.
Billing Concepts*
BillShrink.com
BillShrink.com
California Public Utilities Commission
Cal. PUC
Citizens Utility Board
CUB
City of Chicago Dept. of Business Affairs
Chicago
Comcast Corporation
Comcast*
Consumer Federation of America, Free Press et al.
Consumer Federation*
CTIA The Wireless Association
CTIA
DirectTV, Inc.
DirectTV
Dish Network L.L.C.
Dish Network*
District of Columbia Public Service Commission
D.C. PSC

Federal Trade Commission

FTC

Senator Al Franken

Senator Franken

Independent Telephone & Telecommunications Alliance
ITTA
Individual Consumer
Consumer (name)
Iowa City
Iowa City
Massachusetts Department of Telecommunications and Cable
Mass. DTC
MetroPCS Communications, Inc.
MetroPCS
Minnesota Office of the Attorney General
Minn. AG
Mobile Marketing Association
MMA
Montgomery County Office of Consumer Protection
Montgomery County
National Association of State Utility Consumer Advocates
NASUCA*
National Cable & Telecommunications Association
NCTA*

National Telecommunications Cooperative Association

NTCA

Open Technology Initiative/New America Foundation
Open Technology

Oregon Public Utilities Commission

Oregon PUC

Organization for Promotion and Advancement of Small
OPASTCO
Telecommunications Companies
Qwest Communications International, Inc.
Qwest*
Rural Cellular Association
RCA

Speech Communications Assistance by Telephone

Speech Com

Southern Communications Services, Inc.
SouthernLINC Wireless
Sprint Nextel Corporation
Sprint
State Attorneys General
25 State AGs
STi Prepaid
STi*

T-Mobile USA, Inc.

T-Mobile

Telecommunications for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing et al.
Telecom for Deaf
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Telogical Systems
Telogical
Texas Office of Public Utility Counsel
Texas PUC
Time Warner Cable, Inc.
Time Warner*
United States Telecom Association
USTA
Utility Consumers' Action Network
UCAN
Validas
Validas
Verizon and Verizon Wireless
Verizon*
Virginia State Corporation Commission
Virginia SCC
Voice on the Net Coalition
VON
Wireless Communications Association International
WCAI
* filing both comments and reply comment (bold - reply comments only)
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Bill Shock Public Notice

List of Commenters

The following parties have filed comments in response to the May 11, 2010 Bill Shock Public Notice:
Commenter
Abbreviation
Acision Innovation Assured
Acision
AT&T Inc.
AT&T*
Bridgewater Systems
Bridgewater
Consumers Union, Media Access et al.
Consumers Union
Consumer Action League and National Consumers League
Consumer Action*
CTIA The Wireless Association
CTIA
Ericsson, Inc.
Ericsson
Leap Wireless and Cricket Communications, Inc.
Leap/Cricket
Massachusetts Office of the Attorney General
Mass. AG*
MetroPCS Communications, Inc.
MetroPCS
Montgomery County Office of Consumer Protection
Montgomery County

National Association of State Utility Consumer Advocates

NASUCA

Rural Cellular Association
RCA
Sprint Nextel Corporation
Sprint
T-Mobile USA, Inc.
T-Mobile
Utility Consumers' Action Network
UCAN
Verizon Wireless
Verizon Wireless*
* filing both comments and reply comment (bold - reply comments only). In addition, several
individual consumers filed comments in these proceedings.
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APPENDIX C

Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis

1. As required by the Regulatory Flexibility Act of 1980, as amended, (RFA),1 the Commission has
prepared this Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (IRFA) of the possible significant economic impact
on a substantial number of small entities by the policies and rules proposed in this Notice of Proposed
Rule Making (NPRM). Written public comments are requested on this IRFA. Comments must be
identified as responses to the IRFA and must be filed by the deadlines for comments on the NPRM
provided on the first page of this document. The Commission will send a copy of the NPRM, including
this IRFA, to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business Administration.2 In addition, the
NPRM and IRFA (or summaries thereof) will be published in the Federal Register.3
1. Need for, and Objectives of, the Proposed Rules
2. The record compiled in response to the Consumer Information NOI and Bill Shock PN indicates
that mobile consumers receive inadequate usage-related information to manage the costs associated with
their mobile service plans. Recent reports from both GAO and the Better Business Bureau confirm that
wireless consumers continue to experience problems with unexpected charges appearing on their bills.4
In many cases, these charges result from consumers unknowingly exceeding a monthly allotment limit
and incurring substantial overage charges. These charges can result in significant expenditures of time,
effort, and money for more than 270 million American consumers that use mobile services. In this
NPRM, we seek comment on proposals designed to empower consumers to avoid bill shock by ensuring
that they receive baseline information about their monthly usage balances in a timely and consistent
manner to make informed decisions regarding the costs associated with their mobile service.
2. Legal Basis
3. The legal basis for any action that may be taken pursuant to this NPRM is contained in sections 1-
2, 4, 201, 258, 301, 303, 332 and 403 of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended 47 U.S.C. 151-
152, 154, 201, 258, 301, 303, 332 and 403.
3. Description and Estimate of the Number of Small Entities to Which the Proposed

Rules Will Apply

4. The RFA directs agencies to provide a description of, and where feasible, an estimate of the
number of small entities that will be affected by the proposed rules, if adopted.5 The RFA generally
defines the term "small entity" as having the same meaning as the terms "small business," "small
organization," and "small governmental jurisdiction."6 In addition, the term "small business" has the


1 See 5 U.S.C. 603. The RFA, see 5 U.S.C. 601-612, has been amended by the Small Business Regulatory
Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996 (SBREFA), Pub. L. No. 104-121, Title II, 110 Stat. 857 (1996).
2 See 5 U.S.C. 603(a).
3 See id.
4 See supra paras. 8 and 15.
5 5 U.S.C. 603(b)(3).
6 5 U.S.C. 601(6).
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same meaning as the term "small business concern" under the Small Business Act.7 Under the Small
Business Act, a "small business concern" is one that: 1) is independently owned and operated; 2) is not
dominant in its field of operation; and 3) meets any additional criteria established by the Small Business
Administration (SBA).8 Nationwide, there are a total of approximately 29.6 million small businesses,
according to the SBA.9 The NPRM seeks comment generally on mobile providers of voice, text and data
services. However, as noted in Section IV of the NPRM, we are seeking comment on the scope of entities
that should be covered by the proposals contained therein.10
5. Wireless Telecommunications Carriers (except Satellite). Since 2007, the Census Bureau has
placed wireless firms within this new, broad, economic census category.11 Prior to that time, such firms
were within the now-superseded categories of "Paging" and "Cellular and Other Wireless
Telecommunications."12 Under the present and prior categories, the SBA has deemed a wireless business
to be small if it has 1,500 or fewer employees.13 Because Census Bureau data are not yet available for the
new category, we will estimate small business prevalence using the prior categories and associated data.
For the category of Paging, data for 2002 show that there were 807 firms that operated for the entire
year.14 Of this total, 804 firms had employment of 999 or fewer employees, and three firms had
employment of 1,000 employees or more.15 For the category of Cellular and Other Wireless
Telecommunications, data for 2002 show that there were 1,397 firms that operated for the entire year.16


7 5 U.S.C. 601(3) (incorporating by reference the definition of "small business concern" in the Small Business
Act, 5 U.S.C. 632). Pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 601(3), the statutory definition of a small business applies "unless an
agency, after consultation with the Office of Advocacy of the Small Business Administration and after opportunity
for public comment, establishes one or more definitions of such term which are appropriate to the activities of the
agency and publishes such definition(s) in the Federal Register."
8 15 U.S.C. 632.
9 See SBA, Office of Advocacy, "Frequently Asked Questions," http://web.sba.gov/faqs/faqindex.cfm?areaID=24
(revised Sept. 2009).
10 See supra Sec. IV.
11 U.S. Census Bureau, 2007 NAICS Definitions, "517210 Wireless Telecommunications Categories (Except
Satellite)"; http://www.census.gov/naics/2007/def/ND517210.HTM#N517210.
12 U.S. Census Bureau, 2002 NAICS Definitions, "517211 Paging";
http://www.census.gov/epcd/naics02/def/NDEF517.HTM.; U.S. Census Bureau, 2002 NAICS Definitions,
"517212 Cellular and Other Wireless Telecommunications";
http://www.census.gov/epcd/naics02/def/NDEF517.HTM.
13 13 C.F.R. 121.201, NAICS code 517210 (2007 NAICS). The now-superseded, pre-2007 C.F.R. citations
were 13 C.F.R. 121.201, NAICS codes 517211 and 517212 (referring to the 2002 NAICS).
14 U.S. Census Bureau, 2002 Economic Census, Subject Series: Information, "Establishment and Firm Size
(Including Legal Form of Organization," Table 5, NAICS code 517211 (issued Nov. 2005).
15 Id. The census data do not provide a more precise estimate of the number of firms that have employment of
1,500 or fewer employees; the largest category provided is for firms with "1000 employees or more."
16 U.S. Census Bureau, 2002 Economic Census, Subject Series: Information, "Establishment and Firm Size
(Including Legal Form of Organization," Table 5, NAICS code 517212 (issued Nov. 2005).
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Of this total, 1,378 firms had employment of 999 or fewer employees, and 19 firms had employment of
1,000 employees or more.17 Thus, we estimate that the majority of wireless firms are small.
6. Wireless Telephony. Wireless telephony includes cellular, personal communications services,
and specialized mobile radio telephony carriers. As noted, the SBA has developed a small business size
standard for Wireless Telecommunications Carriers (except Satellite).18 Under the SBA small business
size standard, a business is small if it has 1,500 or fewer employees.19 According to FCC data, 434
carriers report that they are engaged in wireless telephony.20 Of these, an estimated 222 have 1,500 or
fewer employees, and 212 have more than 1,500 employees.21 Therefore, we estimate that 222 of these
entities can be considered small.
4. Description of Projected Reporting, Recordkeeping, and Other Compliance

Requirements

7. In this NPRM, we propose requirements that would require mobile service providers to offer
notification alerts to consumers regarding their usage balances. Specifically, we propose that mobile
service providers offer notification alerts to consumers when: (1) subscribers are approaching their plan's
allotted limit for voice, text, and data usage; (2) subscribers have reached their monthly allotment limit
and begin incurring overage charges for any subsequent use of that service and (3) subscribers will incur
international or roaming charges not covered under their monthly plans. In addition, we propose that
mobile service providers shall make ongoing disclosure of any tools or services they offer which allow
subscribers to set usage limits or monitor usage balances including any applicable charges for those
services. Many mobile service providers already offer some of these services. However, mobile service
providers may have to review and adjust their current alert systems to ensure compliance with these
requirements. In addition, our proposed rules may require mobile providers to include information
regarding how to request and use any usage controls and monitoring tools that they currently offer in the
service providers' bills or in annual bill inserts. This would necessitate providing additional information
to consumers via the monthly bill or an annual bill insert.
5. Steps Taken to Minimize Significant Economic Impact on Small Entities, and

Significant Alternatives Considered

8. The RFA requires an agency to describe any significant alternatives that it has considered in
reaching its proposed approach, which may include the following four alternatives (among others): (1)
the establishment of differing compliance or reporting requirements or timetables that take into account
the resources available to small entities; (2) the clarification, consolidation, or simplification of
compliance or reporting requirements under the rule for small entities; (3) the use of performance, rather


17 Id. The census data do not provide a more precise estimate of the number of firms that have employment of
1,500 or fewer employees; the largest category provided is for firms with "1000 employees or more."
18 13 C.F.R. 121.201, NAICS code 517210.
19 Id.
20 FCC, Wireline Competition Bureau, Industry Analysis and Technology Division, "Trends in Telephone Service"
at Table 5.3, Page 5-5 (Aug. 2008) ("Trends in Telephone Service"). This source uses data that are current as of
November 1, 2006.
21 "Trends in Telephone Service" at Table 5.3.
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than design, standards; and (4) an exemption from coverage of the rule, or any part thereof, for small
entities.22
9. In this NPRM, we seek comment on the costs for small providers to implement usage alerts
including whether there is a need for varying implementation schedules between the larger and smaller
providers to alleviate the burden for smaller providers.23 In addition, we seek comment on whether the
Commission should consider exempting the smaller providers from any usage alert or roaming
notification requirement due to the costs such a requirement might impose on them.24 In reviewing the
frequency of mandatory usage alerts, we seek comment on the utility of providing multiple usage alerts to
the consumer against the potential burdens to the wireless providers particularly smaller providers - who
must supply them.25 Finally, we seek comment on the best methods to minimize costs for smaller,
regional and/or rural mobile providers while ensuring their customers have access to information relating
to any methods to monitor or set limits on usage offered by their service provider.26
6. Federal Rules that May Duplicate, Overlap, or Conflict with the Proposed Rules
10. None.


22 5 U.S.C. 603(c).
23 See supra para. 23.
24 See supra para. 23.
25 See supra para. 20.
26 See supra para. 24.
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STATEMENT OF

CHAIRMAN JULIUS GENACHOWSKI

Re:
Empowering Consumers to Avoid Bill Shock; Consumer Information and Disclosure, CG Docket
No. 10-207, CG Docket No. 09-158.
Today we tackle a widespread and costly problem for mobile consumers: bill shock. What's bill
shock? It's when wireless subscribers experience a sudden, unexpected increase in their monthly bills
that is not caused by a change in service plan.
We've heard from consumers who have been stunned by bills for hundreds and even thousands of
extra dollars as a result of voice, text or data usage exceeding their plan allotments without any alert from
their provider. One consumer got a $35,000 cell phone bill for data and texting charges incurred while
visiting her sister in Haiti after the earthquake even though her provider had advised that a courtesy plan
would be extended to those affected by the disaster.
The facts and data show that this happens all too often. FCC complaint data and our survey
results show that consumers can find themselves paying unexpected charges large and small from one
wireless bill to the next, with no warning. Our survey estimated that 30 million Americans have
experienced some form of bill shock, with the vast majority having no notice. The GAO tells us that 34%
of wireless phone users have received unexpected charges on their bills. Consumers Union released a
survey which had similar results.
Now, there's no question that technology has helped create a vibrant mobile ecosystem that
delivers tremendous benefits to the public -- benefits that can be measured in terms of innovative new
devices, valuable new services, economic activity and jobs.
But like all new technologies, issues emerge. Bill shock is an example. But it's also a case where
a simple technology fix can solve a real consumer problem. There are ways to prevent the bill shocks
easily and inexpensively, using technology widely available today.
Many carriers already offer some of these tools to help consumers. For example, iPad users are
automatically signed up for text alerts from AT&T when they are about to incur overage charges. These
and some others are smart tools to help consumers make smart decisions. But they are the exception, not
the rule. They're not helping consumers consistently, as evidenced by the tens of millions of bill shock
victims.
The rules we propose would require carriers to provide automatic notices such as text message
alerts -- warning consumers when they're at risk of going over text, voice, or data limits, or incurring
roaming charges. These are practical, non-burdensome measures that encourage innovation in the way
carriers provide information to consumers.
It's a simple idea: People should be told they're risking extra fees before they incur them. These
proposed rules would assure that they are.
I know that some will argue this is unnecessary or burdensome. But consider what I heard
yesterday from a business executive. He said that a couple of months ago he had incurred $2,000 in extra
data charges while on a trip overseas. Despite buying an "international plan" he was billed for "more
than 15x what I had expected to pay." He said: "It took hiring a lawyer to get the charges waived cost
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me almost as much as the charges, but I did it for the principle. Most Americans would not have this
luxury."
This executive mentioned that he was in the technology business, doing work to enable cell
phones to pay for on-street parking. He wrote: "I know how easy it is to send a consumer a text message;
we send one 10 minutes before a parking meter expires so they don't get a parking violation ticket; we do
it numerous times a day. The only reason not to do it is if you're trying to take advantage of a customer."
Harnessing technology to empower consumers has been a high priority for me, and will continue
to be. Companies should compete on the basis of value, price and services, not consumer confusion.
Technology allows new forms of transparency and disclosure -- clear and relevant information, delivered
easily to consumers, and at the right time in practical, non-burdensome, efficient ways.
All consumers should be protected from bill shock. The measures we propose today will bring
real benefits for consumers, empowering them to manage their families' wireless budgets, saving them
substantial amounts of money, and avoiding disputes with service providers that are expensive and time-
consuming for all parties.
The staff has done great work on this item, and great work in general on harnessing technology to
empower consumers. Thank you.
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STATEMENT OF

COMMISSIONER MICHAEL J. COPPS

Re:
Empowering Consumers to Avoid Bill Shock; Consumer Information and Disclosure, CG Docket
No. 10-207, CG Docket No. 09-158.
It's always great to start an agenda meeting with a consumer item, because these items reflect our
fundamental mission--that is to protect consumers. This item makes clear the present Commission's
appreciation of its role as a consumer protection agency. There have been too many years in our past, and
I don't say this in a partisan way, when this agency has spent more time listening and responding to the
interests of big business than to consumers--and consumers were left literally paying the bill for that--
and it's been an enormous bill. So I thank the Chairman for putting this front-and-center, and I look
forward to beginning many more agenda meetings with similarly consumer-friendly items. My thanks
also to Joel Gurin and his committed and stellar team in the Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau.
It's a pleasure working with them.
Who among us has not been shocked with one charge or another that we've received on a bill
from a service provider? Just last night, my daughter Claire shared with me a CNN.com story about an
American in Haiti who was down there to help the earthquake-ravaged people of that island recover from
their awful disaster. Her $35,000 bill for texting came as a total surprise, apparently because of lack of
adequate information outreach by her service provider.
In November of last year, the Government Accountability Office released a report that found
more than one-third of all Americans had received unexpected charges on their wireless phone bills
during the previous year. It goes without saying that, in these economic times when the next mail
delivery might bring a foreclosure notice, consumers need predictability in their bills more than ever.
With today's Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, we lay the groundwork to require wireless phone
companies to alert customers as they approach their limits on voice, text and data usage. We also
examine how to expand the tools available to consumers to monitor and cap their usage.
Today's action is long overdue. Customers throughout the European Union already enjoy
protections against bill shock. I am a firm believer in learning--and building upon--the success of
international counterparts. To that end, I appreciate the willingness of the Bureau to expand the Notice's
discussion of these already-implemented regulations and to seek comment on the lessons of the European
experience. When it comes to consumer protection, all nations can learn together--although I would like
to see ours first in the ranks of consumer protection.
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STATEMENT OF

COMMISSIONER ROBERT M. MCDOWELL

Re:
Empowering Consumers to Avoid Bill Shock; Consumer Information and Disclosure, CG Docket
No. 10-207, CG Docket No. 09-158.
I am voting to approve today's notice of proposed rulemaking regarding unexpected charges on
wireless consumer bills. At the same time, I note that some have expressed concern regarding the context
of the process as well as the substance. I appreciate such observations. Certainly we all agree on the
importance of giving consumers what they need in a timely way. It is equally important, however, to
develop a record and allow public comment prior to forming conclusions and implementing any
regulations.

With regard to the substance, the white paper released by the Consumer and Governmental
Affairs Bureau staff yesterday states that the Commission has received 764 "bill shock" complaints in the
first six months of 2010. Although not noted in the white paper, America is home to an estimated 295
million mobile wireless subscribers. The white paper also states that some of the 764 complaints are
under review by or are being actively mediated by the Commission. In others, the Commission has
served the carrier with a complaint. Furthermore, some cases have been resolved satisfactorily. A more
careful review of the totality of the evidence before us tells us that it is important to consider the questions
contained in today's notice in the context of all of the data that is currently available. Here again, we
would all agree that being "data-driven" means more than focusing on only a few facts and figures.

As we move ahead to explore the issues raised in the notice, I hope that we will avoid
inadvertently interfering with the host of innovative applications and programs that already exist for the
purpose of helping consumers manage their wireless usage. Service providers are innovating to develop
and implement useful tools to empower their subscribers. For instance, earlier this month, one mid-sized
carrier announced a new consumer program, which includes special phone replacement features, earlier
phone upgrades, an overage cap, forgiveness and protection and discounts for paperless billing, even in
the absence of a regulatory mandate. One could even say that when it comes to fixing bill shock, "there's
an app for that."
Finally, we must not forget about the economic effects of potential new rules. While it may be
tempting to shrug off regulatory costs, the reality is that businesses pass on their costs to consumers. We
all pay for the cost of government mandates. As such, it is important to proceed carefully.
As always, I look forward to learning more from interested parties. Thank you to the Consumer
and Governmental Affairs Bureau for its work on this notice.
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STATEMENT OF

COMMISSIONER MIGNON L. CLYBURN

Re:
Empowering Consumers to Avoid Bill Shock; Consumer Information and Disclosure, CG Docket
No. 10-207, CG Docket No. 09-158.
I am pleased that the Commission has initiated this proceeding to require alerts and other
information that could help wireless consumers avoid unexpected charges on their monthly bills. The
Commission's job is to ensure that its policies adequately protect consumers, and consequently, that those
policies serve the public interest. When a substantial percentage of consumers have complained about
overage charges, and their service providers have been slow to adequately respond, then the Commission
must take the steps necessary to address those consumer concerns.
Bill shock has been a significant issue for some time. The Government Accountability Office put
wireless companies on notice, in November of 2009, when it issued its report indicating that 34 percent of
wireless consumers had received unexpected charges on their bills. Wireless providers were also
informed, that this Commission was taking the situation seriously, when earlier this year it conducted a
comprehensive survey about bill shock. Unfortunately, the industry has not responded in a sufficient and
uniform manner to address these issues.
Wireless service providers spend considerable resources differentiating themselves on devices
and service offerings, in their efforts to enhance customer support experiences. Given how widespread
bill shock appears to be, I encourage all of the providers to earn their customers' loyalty, by offering more
effective alerts and management tools than their competitors. Perhaps the action we take today, will spur
the industry to adopt the types of protection from bill shock that consumers should reasonably expect. If
this happens, then perhaps this could be the silver lining around this bill shock cloud.
Today's item proposes certain requirements for wireless service providers, and allows companies
to do more and compete for consumers, based on additional information and usage tools. Thus, this item
proposes to better protect consumers from overages, no matter which company they choose, and permits
companies to do even more to win customer loyalty.
I applaud the Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau, for highlighting these concerns, and
thank the Chairman for bringing this item to us for consideration.
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STATEMENT OF

COMMISSIONER MEREDITH ATTWELL BAKER

Re:
Empowering Consumers to Avoid Bill Shock; Consumer Information and Disclosure, CG Docket
No. 10-207, CG Docket No. 09-158.
The Chairman deserves credit for raising the profile of this consumer issue, particularly as service
offerings become more innovative, wireless devices become more complex, and more carriers experiment
with tiered pricing. This is a serious issue that deserves our attention as technologies evolve. Many of us
can recall a surprise on our mobile phone bills. But as the 97.4 percent complaint resolution rating of the
Better Business Bureau and 92 percent approval rating from our own survey in May would suggest, many
of us are also satisfied with our provider's response. It is unfortunate that the item is silent on these
issues.
Better informed consumers will unquestionably make more informed choices. But we as a
Commission must also be wary that even well-intentioned regulation, like this initiative, often imposes
unintended costs. If we don't strike the right balance as regulators, we risk imposing costs on providers
that could result in higher prices and lower quality of service for consumers. Upgrades to providers'
billing systems may be expensive and burdensome for smaller providers and prepaid services and put
them at a competitive disadvantage.
I think this issue is well suited to an industry-led solution. Competition on the basis of better
customer service already distinguishes and differentiates carriers. Innovation by wireless carriers in this
area benefits consumers. Consumers have the ultimate power to manage their "shock." The imposition
of static, inflexible rules could undermine the commendable efforts many carriers have already taken and
potentially restrict the use of important competitive tools that can serve customers better.
It is incumbent upon the wireless industry to redouble their efforts to educate consumers. They
must provide clear information on the available monitoring tools and ensure that they are adequate and
comprehensive. The voluntary industry efforts already in the marketplace--like the CTIA Consumer
Code, which aims to improve consumer disclosure practices, and individual carrier initiatives--are a first
step. My hope is that more industry participation takes place between now and the Commission's ruling
on this matter. Ultimately, it's in the wireless industry's best interest to make clear to the consumer all
that they're doing to manage expectations and avoid surprises. There is no need to wait for the
Commission to act to provide more and consistent types of information. Indeed, if enough progress is
made, the Commission may not have to act at all.
32

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