FCC Proposes Warning to Cell Phone Users Nearing Monthly Limits

The Federal Communications Commission is proposing regulation on Thursday that will force cellular providers to tell consumers when their bills are about to surge, according to a number of media reports. The agency said about 30 million Americans were surprised by additional fees on their monthly bills, according to a study from last May.

The FCC's proposal is similar to ones in place in Europe, and would require companies to alert customers, either by text or voice, when they are nearing monthly usage limits in their subscription plans. "Many people don't realize when they've exceeded the cap in the number of minutes they can spend making calls or the number of megabytes they can use for text messages," according toUSA Today.

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"We want to make sure that competition is based on price, value and service -- not on confusing consumers," FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said in an interview with the media. "Most people don't know what a megabyte is. But they do understand when they get an alert telling them they're about to go over their limit and incur additional fees."

The cellular providers claim that the change is unnecessary and that they already have systems to tell customer when they have begun to incur charges beyond those paid for under their normal monthly plans. Some of these alerts, however, are only accessible through websites and are therefore a passive system for notification.

Genachowski's comments on the new proposal can be viewed here after 12 p.m. EST.