Broadband providers will need to display easy-to-understand labels to allow consumers to comparison shop for broadband services under new FCC rules.
The rules were mandated by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), adopted late last year.
The labels, which look similar to the well-known nutrition labels that appear on food products, will display, at the point of sale, details on speeds, fees, data allowances, and other critical information.
Among the requirements under the FCC order:
- Prominent display: Consumers must be able to see their actual label when purchasing broadband by requiring providers to display the label – not simply an icon or link to the label – in close proximity to an associated plan advertisement.
- Account portals: ISPs to must make each customer’s label easily accessible to the customer in their online account portal, as well as to provide the label to an existing customer upon request.
- Machine readability: To further assist with comparison shopping, providers must make the information in the labels machine-readable to enable third parties to more easily collect and aggregate data for the purpose of creating comparison-shopping tools for consumers.
The FCC order also includes a template of the label, drawn from consumers, consumer advocates, and government and industry experts during hearings and the rulemaking process. There are specific rules, which can be found in the FCC order.
The FCC also adopted a Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on ways that it can further refine and improve its rules in order to ensure that it furthers its consumer transparency goals.
“Broadband is an essential service, for everyone, everywhere. Because of this, consumers need to know what they are paying for, and how it compares with other service offerings,” Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said in a prepared statement. “For over 25 years, consumers have enjoyed the convenience of nutrition labels on food products. We’re now requiring internet service providers to display broadband labels for both wireless and wired services. Consumers deserve to get accurate information about price, speed, data allowances, and other terms of service up front.”
The FCC will announce the effective date of the label after it has completed necessary next steps, including requirements under the Paperwork Reduction Act.