FCC calls WCAI suggestion 'absurd'

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) panned a study from a wireless group this week that advocated against rules proposed by the agency. 

The WCAI study had argued that cell phone overages save consumers money because it is cheaper to pay the extra fee in comparison to buying a more expensive phone plan. 

That wasn't convincing to FCC Consumer Bureau Chief Joel Gurin. 

"It's absurd to suggest that the alerts in our proposed rules would reduce consumer choice — they will enhance it," he said.

Gurin pointed to flaws in the study itself. 

"This analysis is based on the assumption that people who go over their plan limits do so intentionally. There is no evidence for this assumption: The data come from an analysis of bills, not interviews with consumers," he said. 

The FCC has proposed "bill shock" rules that would require wireless carriers to notify consumers when they are about to surpass the limits of their wireless phone plans. 

"The goal of our rules is simply to ensure that consumers have full information about their voice, text, and data usage so that they can choose how to use their cell phone plans," he said.

Study author Roger Entner said it's possible to assume the people incurred the overages on purpose.

“When people do the same thing over and over again, while experiencing economic benefits, it can be presumed that their behavior is not accidental. The study, which is based on actual bills documenting behavior, shows that most consumers who are going into overages do this intentionally,” he said.