FCC opens wireless billing inquiry

In response to frequent consumer complaints, the Federal Communications Commission has opened an inquiry into the billing practices of the wireless industry.

The FCC’s probe, launched Tuesday, is seeking comments from industry members and other interested parties about new technical measures carriers could adopt to help alert consumers when they are running up a avoid what the commission is terming “bill shock.”

“We are hearing from consumers about unpleasant surprises on their bills,” Joel Gurin, chief of the FCC’s Government and Affairs Bureau, said in a statement. “We’ve gotten hundreds of complaints about bill shock. But this is an avoidable problem.”

Gurin, who also chairs the FCC’s Consumer Task Force, is asking for comments about the feasibility of rules requiring carriers to send subscribers text messages when they are racking up hefty roaming charges, approaching the limit of their voice minutes, or on the verge of incurring other fees.

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