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Genachowski To Stump Against Wireless 'Bill Shock'

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski will stump
for taking a bite out of "bill shock" next week in advance of an FCC meeting at which new rules regarding those bills will be proposed.

According to his office, he will be at the Center
For American Progress Oct. 13 to outline new findings from the commission on
the issue, as well as hearing consumers' own stories.

The FCC last May launched an inquiry into
combating unexpected wireless phone charges, or what it calls "bill

The FCC opened a general inquiry last year into
ensuring access to information about communications services (transparency and
notification are elements in the FCC's proposed expansion and codification of
network neutrality principles), but the May inquiry drilled down into the
specific question of automatic notification to consumers when they are running
up roaming charges or exceeding data limits, notification the FCC will propose codifying.

The initiative was one of the first from the task
force, which was part of Genachowski's avowed effort to put more of the FCC's
focus on consumers.

At about the same time, the FCC released a survey
suggesting 30 million mobile device users have experienced bill shock, which it
defines as a sudden increase in their bills without any change in their service

According to the commission, the survey also
showed that almost half of cell phone users liable for early termination fees
don't know what those fees are. That number jumps to two-thirds of those with
broadband plans.

The commission is planning on voting at its Oct. 14 public meeting on rules "requiring mobile carriers to provide usage alerts and related information that will assist consumers in avoiding unexpected charges on their bills."