The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) unveiled its “nutrition label” that will require broadband providers to display key information consumers want to know at the time of purchase: prices, speeds, fees, data allowances, and other critical information.

In adopting the label, the FCC stated that 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.

“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,” FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said, according to a Nov. 17 press release.

“For over 25 years, consumers have enjoyed the convenience of nutrition labels on food products,” she continued. “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 broadband labels became a recommendation for internet providers in 2016, but the FCC finally voted for their requirement in January of this year. The commission spent the last 10 months listening to feedback from consumers, consumer advocates, and government and industry experts to ensure the label benefits everyone.

The new broadband labels will include several features:

  • Prominent Display: ensures that consumers see the label when purchasing broadband by requiring providers to display the label – not simply an icon or link to the label – near an associated plan advertisement;
  • Account Portals: requires each customer’s label to be made 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: requires that providers make the information in the labels machine-readable to enable third parties to more easily collect and aggregate data to create comparison-shopping tools for consumers; and
  • Further Refinements: adoption of ways the FCC can further refine and improve its rules to ensure that they further their consumer transparency goals.

The FCC plans to announce the effective date of the label after it has completed the necessary next steps, including requirements under the Paperwork Reduction Act.

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