Internet service providers (ISP) will soon have to be a lot more transparent with what their plans come with and how much they truly cost. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has introduced new rules that will require ISPs to display easy-to-read-and-understand labels that show key facts about their products at the point of sale. These labels will resemble the nutrition labels at the back of food products and should include, among other things, the price, speed, data allowances and other aspects of a company’s wired and wireless internet services.
In a statement, FCC Chairperson Jessica Rosenworcel said that by requiring the companies to display their rates clearly, the agency is “seeking to end the kind of unexpected fees and junk costs that can get buried in long and mind-numbingly confusing statements of terms and conditions.” As you can see in the FCC’s example above, providers will have to itemize each one-time and monthly fee you’ll have to pay.
The FCC will require providers to prominently display these labels on their main purchasing pages, and in close proximity to an associated plan advertisement. They can’t be hidden behind multiple clicks and can’t be camouflaged by other elements in the page that they’ll likely be missed. The labels also need to be accessible from your customer account portal, and the provider must give you a copy when you ask. Further, the FCC is requiring the broadband companies to make the labels machine readable, so that third-party developers can easily create tools that would make it easier to compare ISPs.
The commission proposed rules for broadband labels back in January in response to the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act that President Biden signed into law last year. After the Office of Management and Budget under the Paperwork Reduction Act reviews and approves the FCC’s requirements, ISPs will have six months (or a year, if they’re a smaller company) to comply.