The FCC today adopted a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) seeking comment on a consumer label for broadband service.
The label was mandated in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) adopted late last year.
The requirement aims to make it easier for consumers to compare services from different broadband providers in making decisions about which provider to use. Some stakeholders call it a broadband “nutrition label” because it aims to give consumers basic information about broadband in a similar way to how consumers get nutrition information from the labels found on food items sold in the U.S.
“We want to develop a consistent and straightforward way of providing accurate information about price, speed, data allowances and other aspects of high-speed service,” said FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel at today’s FCC meeting where the NPRM was adopted.
“We want to end efforts to bury facts in the fine print and we want to stop unexpected costs and fees.”
Broadband Consumer Label
If the broadband consumer label sounds familiar, that’s because it was part of plans for Net Neutrality rules that were put in place when Tom Wheeler was FCC chairman.
The broadband nutrition label initially was intended as an optional way for broadband providers to demonstrate their transparency regarding internet policies, as a Consumer Reports blog post from July 2021 explains.
Plans for a consumer broadband label died when the Wheeler-era Net Neutrality rules were overturned when Ajit Pai became chairman. But the label came to life again in the IIJA.
According to a press release, the NPRM adopted today seeks stakeholder input on:
- How consumers evaluate broadband service plans
- Whether the labels designed in 2016 will assist consumers with the purchase process
- Whether those labels should be updated in terms of content and format
- Whether the FCC should provide new guidance about where providers must display the labels
According to a fact sheet included with the draft NPRM, the commission proposes to require the labels to be displayed at the point of sale.