FCC Launches Broadband 'Nutrition Labels'

John Lister's picture

The FCC has launched "broadband labels" to help consumers compare different packages and providers. The labels are modeled on those used for nutritional information.

The idea is to help consumers make more informed decisions about choosing a provider. The problem is that often it's a lack of choice that's the biggest barrier to getting good value Internet services.

Most providers will need to start displaying the labels from this month, though those with fewer than 100,000 subscribers have until October to comply. Customers can complain to the FCC about missing or inaccurate labels. The FCC hasn't spelt out specific penalties for breaches. (Source: fcc.gov)

While the format of the labels is extremely reminiscent of the FDA-mandated nutritional information labels, the required information directly relates to broadband service. There will be separate labels for wired and mobile broadband.

No Hiding Place For Hidden Fees

The information includes details about the monthly price including any restrictions, introductory rates and minimum terms, plus any additional charges such as installation or early termination fees.

The labels will also list typical download and upload speeds, latency (the delay in starting data transmission) and any monthly usage caps. Companies must also give customer support contacts plus a website address for their privacy policy and any network management policy (such as restricting usage or slowing speeds for particular types of data or at specific times).

The original plans meant the labels would also have to show if the plan was eligible for the Affordable Connectivity Plan which offered a $30 government-funded discount for people on low incomes. That requirement has been dropped because the plan is currently set to wind up unless and until Congress approves additional funding.

Price Comparison Easier

Providers will need to publish a separate label for each plan and show it at the point of sale, whether that be in a store or online. They will also need to make the labels available in a machine-readable format to make it easy for third parties to produce automated comparison sites.

The idea of the labels to is make it easier to know which providers are offering the best deal for a user's particular requirements and budgets. Of course, that doesn't necessarily help customers in areas where they have limited options for high-speed connections. (Source: theverge.com)

What's Your Opinion?

Are the labels a good idea? Would they have helped you when you signed up to your current deal? Is better information for customers the key to a competitive broadband market?

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drobinson_nc_16614's picture

I get a price increase from AT&T every year. I just got another one today. They are trying to force me to give them access to my bank account or it will cost me another $10 a month. Same thing happened last year and the year before. I was paying $70/month in 2021. Now I am paying $110/month for the same service. Every year I have to pay another $10/month to help them "offset" their operating cost. There needs to be a cap placed on their service. The 'label' is a waste of time and will only create another cost increase for the consumer. AT&T is a monopoly and owns most of the other service providers, such as Time Warner(aka Spectrum Internet). So there are not many, if any, to choose from in most areas.