updated 04:25 pm EDT, Fri September 24, 2010
FCC to tackle cellphone overage fees next month
The FCC late this week published an agenda (PDF) for its next open meeting that confirmed it will tackle high cellphone overage charges on October 14. Agency officials will discuss how to combat what it has called "bill shock," or roaming and heavy use charges that can range into the hundreds or thousands of dollars above the base rate. Extra fees have become an increasing problem as smartphones like the iPhone have added data fees to voice and text messaging costs.
Most proposals surrounding the fees have involved an EU-like strategy of capping fees at a certain monetary amount or measurement. Carriers both in Europe and the US have claimed the regulation isn't needed, but critics have pointed out that carriers often end up dramatically lowering fees after customers claim that they can't afford the bills.
Along with cellular service, FCC commissioners will also address the aims of repurposing the Universal Service Fund to pay for rural broadband as well as opening TV set-top boxes to let CableCARD and the devices themselves access cable service. Many boxes are locked to an individual provider and often have limited or non-existent support for CableCARD's HDTV support. The FCC has gone so far as to suggest dropping CableCARD entirely in favor of Internet support.