The US Federal Communications Commission has adopted new rules that will require broadband internet service providers to “display easy-to-understand labels” that will make it easier for people to know what the companies are actually offering and how much service will cost.

Basically these are the equivalent of the nutrition labels that you see on food packages… but for internet. The FCC says the goal is to help people comparison shop… but that assumes you’re in a market where there’s any real competition, and there’s a good chance you’re not. Still, the labels could at least let you know how good or bad a deal you’re getting.

FCC sample for the new broadband "nutrition labels"
FCC sample for the new broadband “nutrition labels”

The FCC released a proposal for the new labels earlier this year, but it looks like they’ve undergone some changes since then.

According to the new rules, broadband providers will need to display the labels prominently in a way that makes them hard to miss when you’re signing up for a plan. They also need to be easily accessible in any online customer account portals and machine-readable so that third-parties an aggregate the information for comparisons.

Among other things, the labels will list:

  • Monthly price
  • Whether that price is an introductory rate and, if so, how long it lasts and what the rate will be when the promotion ends
  • Additional chargers and fees
  • Discounts and bundles
  • Typical download and upload speeds
  • Typical latency
  • Data included with the monthly price
  • Customer support contact information
  • Links to network management and privacy policies

It’s unclear exactly when you’ll start to see the labels though. The FCC says it still has a few regulatory steps to take before it will be ready to announced the date when the new rules take effect. And providers will have up to a year to comply with the regulations.

via Gizmodo

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2 replies on “FCC’s “Nutrition Labels” for US broadband providers will help comparison shoppers (assuming there’s any competition)”

  1. Irrelevant in the vast majority of locations in the United States. Only one viable ISP to choose from, terrible service, price increases every month. It’s a government sanctioned shake-down racket.

  2. While I appreciate some standardization it’s a far, far less pressing issue than the fact that packet routing services still aren’t forced to act common carriers.
    Or how pressing not knowing what’s in your food was, before nutrition labels.
    And there’s some stuff I’d like to know about available connections up front that still isn’t on there, like whether or not I can host stuff at home among other things. I know no one cares but me, but considering how much people use the internet these days the average person really ought to care more about how it works.
    But I already know how most of the discussion is going to go. Something to the effect of, “how could anyone say this is not (yet) a good thing and not be a bad person?”

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