When you’re shopping for packaged food in the US, you can get a quick overview of its nutritional data by reading a label on the side of the box. Soon you may start seeing similar-looking labels when shopping for broadband internet service.

The FCC has released a proposal for “Point-Of-Sales Labels” that could bring more transparency about hidden fees and what you’re actually getting for your money when you sign up for home or wireless broadband service.

Sample FCC Point-of-Sales label from 2016

For example, it’s usually pretty easy to find the introductory rates offered by internet service providers. But it can be a lot tougher to figure out how much you’ll end up paying when the introductory rate goes away after a year or two. And information about things like activation fees, modem rental fees, and early termination fees is often hidden in the fine print.

If the new broadband “nutrition labels” are approved, you’d see all of that information up front.

Other information that would be provided includes data transfer speeds, data caps, and network management practices like throttling.

The FCC has taken the first step toward requiring these labels by voting to approve a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking. But there are a few more hoops to jump through before they take effect – public comment needs to be collected before a final vote is made.

This isn’t the first time the FCC tried to require broadband providers to offer more transparency through point-of-sales labels. The regulator introduced similar labels in 2016 during the final months of the Obama administration, before they were abandoned by the Trump administration.

via Ars Technica

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  1. Yes! WindStream’s “guaranteed for life” price went up every single year, sometimes multiple times in a year, thanks to new and ever-increasing fees they tacked on. And, it was never the same from one month to the next, it always varied by few cents.

    Similarly Metronet’s pricing starts out about $10/month higher than advertised due to hidden fees.

    I have to give Spectrum some credit here, when they advertise $x/month for a year, the bill is exactly $x. (Also, it will absolutely go up at the end of the year, but it should stay at the new higher price for that year.)

    1. It’s even easier in Spain. Call, contract your internet, no prepay in advance, pay month to month, cancel anytime no penalty. Same for locals and foreigners, and very cheap.

  2. It’s much easier where I live (not in the US)… Just a single monthly fee with a minimum one-year contract. We only pay for cabling the first time if our house is more than 400 meters away from the “main box”. I did have to prepay for one year the first year since I’m a foreigner, but locals can just pay month by month.

    1. It’s even easier in Spain. Call, contract your internet, no prepay in advance, pay month to month, cancel anytime no penalty. Same for locals and foreigners, and very cheap.

  3. If we could trust our government, it could provide inexpensive broadband, but it’s been engaged in the wholesale theft of our online data for going on two decades.

  4. That’s great. Now all we need is the actual ability to choose a provider, which was the real problem all along.

      1. And as long as we’re dreaming, I’d like ISPs to assign fixed ipv6 addresses to houses, and not charge extra to open ports and host websites on a home connection.