As smartphone Wi-Fi gets faster, keep the bill from shocking you

an example of bill shock

Be careful with new smartphone speed and services, or you will be shocked when your bill gets delivered -- in a box. Image: CC me and the sysop/Flickr

Soon cell phones will have high-speed Wi-Fi connections that are just as fast as the newest computers. The new services made possible by higher speeds will make your cell phone bill even more complicated. To prevent bill shock, you will have to pay closer attention to your wireless charges and take steps to save money on your cell phone bill.

Be careful with tiered data plans

As wireless carriers supercharge their networks, smartphones will be able to do more amazing things and create more new charges. Wireless carriers have made a lot of money by confusing customers. The coming technological advances will give them more opportunities to include mystery fees and penalties on your cell phone bill. Carriers such as Verizon Wireless and T-Mobile have already shifted to tiered data plans based on cell phone usage. They expect most cell phone users aren’t used to keeping track of how many megabytes they have left for the month.

FCC bill shock regulations

As wireless carriers add more speed, new services and additional charges, the Federal Communications Commission is trying to keep a lid on the confusion. Cell phone users have a valuable ally in FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, who told the Washington Post that even though cell phone companies keep customers informed about their minutes and megabytes, they continue to rely on confounding consumers to pad their profits. The FCC is proposing “bill shock” regulations that will protect cell phone customers from surprise charges. Bill shock regulations, for example, would require wireless carriers to alert customers when they are about to be charged for services that go beyond their monthly plans.

Cell phone money saving tips

The FCC can help, but it’s up to cell phone users themselves to avoid being ripped off. It’s easy to track your minutes when you sign up with overmyminutes.com, a free service that sends you a text when you’re about to go over your plan. You can also save money by getting together with your family to sign up for the same plan. Never use your cell phone for toll-free calls, and remember that dialing 4-1-1 costs a dollar or more each time. If possible, bundle your wireless, cable TV, Internet and land-line for a discount.

Sources

Washington Post

Ars Technica

About.com

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