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Posted at 4:40 PM ET, 12/ 2/2010

Klobuchar wants more vigorous FCC oversight of cell phone billing practices

By Cecilia Kang

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) on Thursday urged the Federal Communications Commission for greater oversight of cell phone billing practices, particularly as users move toward smart phones and other wireless gadgets with tiered data fees.

Please check out Post Tech's story earlier this week on the host of new services and charges new high-speed mobile networks present to consumers. They are offering those services with tiered pricing plans based on how much data users consume. Verizon Wireless, which launches its fourth-generation high-speed network this weekend, is considering charges based on levels of speeds consumers choose to download Web sites and applications.

“Advancements in wireless technology have presented consumers with exciting new cell phone and smart phone options," Klobuchar wrote in a letter to Genachowski. "Those advancements should not go hand-in-hand with increased consumer confusion.”

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski introduced a proposal that would require cell phone carriers warn users when they are about to go over their data, text and voice limits. The policy would help users avoid surprises in their bills. The FCC released a survey earlier this year that showed about 30 million cellphone users have experienced bill shock from sudden increases.

In a recent interview, the FCC's head of consumer protection said the concern is acute as carriers begin introducing high-speed Internet netowrks.

"We will need to watch the transition to 4G" high-speed Internet networks, said Joel
Gurin, chief of the FCC's consumer and government affairs bureau. "Any moves from unlimited to tiered plans with caps clearly underscores the needs for the kinds of alerts we are now seeking as a proposed rulemaking."

By Cecilia Kang  | December 2, 2010; 4:40 PM ET
Categories:  Consumers, FCC  
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