When paying for their internet, phone, and cable bills, Americans frequently experience hidden fees and price increases. According to a 2019 Consumer Reports survey of more than 2,000 U.S. adults, 85% of people in the country had paid an unexpected or hidden cost for a service they used. Thanks to a rule that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) recently adopted, customers may now be better protected against these charges.
In order to help customers choose the right broadband services, Internet service providers (ISPs) must now display simple-to-read “nutrition labels” at the point of sale. These labels should include important information like costs, speeds, charges, data allotments, and other pertinent details. These labels will look similar to the common nutrition information found on food goods.
In a statement, FCC Chair Jessica Rosenworcel said the following:
“We are using the food industry as a model because we want to make it simple to comprehend the fundamentals of internet service. As of now, our regulations mandate that while a consumer is choosing a product, broadband nutrition labels must be completely visible. This implies that consumers will be provided with clear, concise information up front about the cost, speed, data allotments, and other features of high-speed internet service. Additionally, by mandating that providers post introductory prices in plain sight, we hope to put an end to the kind of unforeseen fees and gimmicky costs that can be hidden in protracted and mentally exhausting explanations of terms and conditions.”
The labels must be uniform, computer-readable, and visible next to an advertisement for the related plan. ISPs cannot have consumers click many times to obtain the label or provide it as a link or icon that is simple to overlook.
After completing the necessary next processes, which include reviews by the Office of Management and Budget under the Paperwork Reduction Act, the FCC will announce the effective date of the label. But the FCC’s criteria can already be reviewed by ISPs, allowing for the improvement of the labelling. In the end, Rosenworcel said, “our aim is to make broadband service purchase more straightforward and competitive for customers everywhere.”