Bill shock is what happens when you go abroad, let your phone download some emails, then return home to an enormous bill. It has happened to me and at least one other frequently traveling samizdatista. The BBC is reporting that the European Parliament’s Industry, Telecommunications, Research, and Energy Committee has just voted to cap the price of mobile data in order to prevent bill shock.
Which does not quite make sense. The problem of bill shock is not that the bill is too high, though it is surprising and arguably silly that the price of a gigabyte can vary by a factor of 1000 or more depending on where you are, but you are told the price in advance. The problem is that the bill is unexpected. If phone companies are guilty of something, it is that they make it difficult or impossible to detect that you are running up an enormous bill before it is too late.
A simple solution would be to use SMS to warn customers what is happening or to allow them to set a limit after which data stops working. And although the BBC article does not say so, this is exactly what was regulated in July 2010. This bit of regulation regulates a sensible solution to a real problem, even it it is not sensible that regulation was used to achieve it.
The rest of it, the arbitrary caps on prices of this and that, is just price fixing.