CTIA’s New Alert Guidelines Could Mean The End Of “Bill Shock”

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Obscenely high phone bills have a habit of coming from out of the blue, but that could all change in coming months. According to Reuters, the wireless trade association CTIA is expected to announce a new set of guidelines today under which all wireless carriers must notify their customers when they’re nearing overage territory.

Be it from unintentional roaming, talkative friends or text-crazy family members, nearly 1 in 6 wireless customers have experienced “bill shock,” and the FCC is none too pleased with the situation. They unveiled a similar effort to curb bill shock last year, but the regulatory commission is putting their plans on ice for now.

They’re not sitting out the game for good though — the FCC will reportedly be ready to step in once more if wireless carriers start to drag their feet.

The CTIA guidelines revolve around four types of alerts: voice, data, messaging, and roaming. Carriers will be required to send those alerts to their customers both before they hit their monthly limits, and right when they tiptoe over the line.

Unlike the FCC’s proposed rules, the CTIA’s guidelines puts these alerts into the field much sooner. Carriers will have 12 months to implement at least 2 of the 4 alert types, and another 6 months after that to get the rest of them working. It’s simple enough in theory, but the FCC has stated that the change would require some pretty substantial changes to carrier billing systems.

After having spent a few years on the retail side of the wireless industry, it’s refreshing to see some of the onus fall on carriers instead of customers. It won’t be a quick rollout, nor an especially easy one, but it’s one that will give consumers some much-needed information — after all, isn’t one heinous phone bill enough?