October 17, 2012

Udall Commends Progress to Prevent "Bill Shock"

WASHINGTON - Today U.S. Senator Tom Udall applauded progress by wireless companies toward implementing voluntary measures to prevent consumer "bill shock" by providing free alerts to notify subscribers on their cellphone usage. October 17, 2012 marks the preliminary implementation deadline of a bill shock agreement announced last year by CTIA -The Wireless Association (CTIA) and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

"At least 30 million Americans have suffered 'bill shock' after exceeding the limit of their monthly wireless plan," said Udall, a member of the Senate Commerce Committee. "With nearly one-third of U.S. households now exclusively using wireless phone service, and a growing number of innovative handsets and devices with fast broadband connections, these new alerts will help American consumers and families avoid unexpected charges."

According to CTIA President and CEO Steve Largent, participating wireless providers now provide at least two types of alerts on subscribers' voice, data, messaging and international service usage and will provide additional alerts by April 2013 to comply with last year's agreement.

In 2010, Senator Udall introduced the Cell Phone Bill Shock Act to require cell phone companies to alert consumers before they go over their limit for data, text messages or minutes. In 2011, CTIA and FCC announced an agreement by the major wireless companies to prevent bill shock. Participating companies agreed to send free alerts to subscribers with wireless plans that impose additional charges for exceeding limits on voice, data and text usage.

"I am pleased to announce, in coordination with the Federal Communications Commission, that all of CTIA's member signatories to the Consumer Code have met their commitment," said Largent. "Currently, each provider offers notifications in at least two of the applicable four categories of service, and will meet - or beat - next April's deadline."

The U.S. has more than 320 million wireless phone lines. Companies participating in the CTIA Consumer Code provide service to more than 97 percent of American wireless customers. The bill shock prevention measures are incorporated in CTIA's Consumer Code for Wireless Service.