US wireless carriers will now be warning customers as they near their monthly limits on voice and data usage. The wireless industry trade group CTIA announced the policy, billed as a boon to customers assaulted by "bill shock," that will have all major stateside carriers sending out free alerts to customers both before and after they've hit their ceilings on voice, data, and text services, as well as when they're incurring international data roaming charges. It comes in response to new regulations the FCC had been preparing that would have forced them to do much the same thing. The agency has agreed to hold off for now.
While welcome in principle, we can't help but wonder if this is a case of too little too late, particularly as carriers have been lopping off unlimited data and mid-level texting options from their packages. Claiming the changes will require massive retooling of their billing infrastructure, they're only agreeing to enact two alerts of their choice by October of next year, with the full set not going into effect until April 17, 2013. Still, for anyone that's ever received an unexpectedly large envelope from their carrier, the new alerts will most certainly be a good thing — when they finally get here. In the meantime, it looks like Android Ice Cream Sandwich, with its new data usage visualizer and adjustable app data limits, will be more than happy to pick up the slack.