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Posted at 7:30 AM ET, 11/30/2010

Faster cell phone services bring a wave of new services and charges

By Cecilia Kang

If you think cellphone bills are complicated now, just wait.

Within weeks, some of the biggest wireless companies will offer super-fast Internet connections for cellphones that rival the speeds delivered to desktop computers. As competitors follow suit with their own juiced-up networks geared for the Web, consumers can expect a cornucopia of new services - along with new charges.

For now, consumers can buy flat-rate monthly data plans from most carriers. But Verizon Wireless and T-Mobile are moving toward tiered pricing packages based on how much data a customer uses. All-you-can-eat plans are no longer available to AT&T's new customers, who must choose from a menu of data services.

"There are a variety of things you can do and a lot is on the table," said Peter Thonis, a spokesman for Verizon Communications. "You could be charged based on usage or by speed difference, or you could do both. There are no definitive answers here."

The Federal Communications Commission is trying to keep up, launching an effort to prevent mystery fees and confusing increases from appearing on cellphone bills. But the wave of changes is only beginning.

Cisco, which provides routers for wireless networks, is working with corporate clients such as Verizon to create even more options for consumers. Users could opt for "turbo charging" streaming video feeds to their smartphone for an extra fee. Just pay a little more for "gold service" compared with "bronze service" for data packages and speeds, said a Cisco official, who wasn't authorized to be identified speaking for the company.

Imagine bundles of television channels such as ESPN and Fox delivered on your iPad or other tablet for a few dollars extra. Add a few more dollars and get parental controls to block R-rated movies and World of Warcraft on your teen's Droid.

Read here for full story.

By Cecilia Kang  | November 30, 2010; 7:30 AM ET
Categories:  AT&T, Broadband, Clearwire, Consumers, FCC, Facebook, Google, Mobile, Online Video, Sprint Nextel, T-Mobile, Twitter, Verizon  
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Comments

In a world of tiered billing, the flat rate carrier will be King. Maybe. I know I'm not about to try and figure all that out. One price, please. And thank you.

Posted by: walkdwalk | November 30, 2010 3:08 PM | Report abuse

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