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Here’s why you should never face an unexpected surge in your phone bill ever again.

The Federal Communication Commission says the days of surprising phone bills are nearly at an end…

More than 97 percent of wireless customers across the country will be protected from bill shock when this [alert] plan is fully implemented. The participating carriers have each committed to sending a series of free usage alerts to their subscribers with wireless plans that impose additional charges for exceeding limits on voice, data or text usage, and to those consumers without an international roaming plan/package who may incur charges when using their wireless devices while travelling abroad.

These alerts, which apply to currently-offered and future domestic voice, data and messaging plans as of October 17, 2011, the date of the Code’s revision, will allow subscribers to better monitor and manage the use of their devices and avoid unexpected charges. All alerts must be provided automatically and without charge. Subscribers do not need to take any action to receive the alerts.

Carriers currently provide at least two of four types of alert, and will add the others by April 2013. Here’s a list of who’s participating right now:

Carrier Voice Data SMS/Text International Roaming Additional Alerts
AT&T * Yes N/A Yes
Cellcom Yes Yes Yes *
Cellular One of NE Arizona Yes Yes Yes *
Clearwire N/A Yes N/A N/A
Plateau Yes Yes * *
SouthernLINC Wireless Yes Yes Yes N/A
Sprint * Yes * Yes
T-Mobile USA * Yes N/A Yes For voice usage, but only to Even More Plus plan subscribers. More
US Cellular * Yes * Yes For voice and text usage automatically for majority of subscribers, and on request for remaining subscribers. More
Verizon Wireless Yes Yes Yes * International alerts for data service in all countries, and voice and SMS/text service in all countries except Canada. More
N/A = Carrier does not offer the service or offers it only on an unlimited basis on all domestic plans offered as of or after October 17, 2011, making the sending of usage alerts unnecessary.* = Carrier does not yet provide the alert but must do so by April 17, 2013.

Of course, this won’t fix technical errors that lead to $15 Quadrillion Phone Bills.

Stacy Johnson

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