The Federal Communication Commission (FCC) voted today to take up a proposal that would require “nutrition labels” for broadband services, providing consumers with better information about prices, speeds, additional fees, network management practices, and more.
The proposal responds to the requirement for broadband service labeling from provisions in the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act approved by Congress in November. The broadband nutrition labels were previously approved in 2016, but the Trump administration abandoned the idea.
“Access to accurate, simple-to-understand information about broadband internet access services helps consumers make informed choices and is central to a well-functioning marketplace that encourages competition, innovation, low prices, and high-quality service,” the FCC said in a release.
After today’s vote, the FCC is now looking for feedback on how consumers evaluate broadband service plans, whether the 2016 labels should be updated, and whether the agency should provide new guidance on where broadband providers must display their nutrition labels.
“In a grocery store nutrition labels make it easy to compare calories and carbohydrates. We need the same simple labels for broadband – so we can compare price, speed, and data. No more fees in fine print,” FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel tweeted after today’s vote.
New America’s Open Technology Institute, which first suggested implementing the broadband nutrition labels in 2009, praised the FCC’s decision.
“Today’s FCC vote is a welcome step forward and a win for consumers. OTI has long called for truth-in-billing for the broadband industry, which is notorious for keeping customers in the dark. Hidden fees, surprise bills, and dense contracts are familiar problems to anyone who deals with these companies,” said Joshua Stager, deputy director for broadband and competition policy at New America’s Open Technology Institute.
“The broadband nutrition label cuts through this confusion by clearly disclosing the cost and terms of service in a simple, consumer-friendly format,” Stager added. “It’s a common sense idea that we look forward to working with the Commission to implement. People deserve to know what they are paying for.”