FCC: New Broadband Labels to Help Clarify Price, Performance Data

Consumers have the option at looking at nutritional labels when shopping for groceries. So why not apply a similar labeling guideline for unraveling what most consumers pay for on a monthly basis: Broadband Internet service on their smartphones and at home.

The Federal Communications Commission did just that. The FCC unveiled new broadband labels to provide consumers of mobile and fixed broadband Internet service with “easy-to-understand information about price and performance.”
These labels (see links below for samples) are designed to help consumers make informed decisions about the purchase of broadband service, the FCC states.
“These labels provide consumers clarity about the broadband service they are purchasing, not only helping them to make more informed choices but also preventing surprises when the first bill arrives,” said FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler. “Customers deserve to know the price they will actually pay for a service and to be fully aware of other components such as data limits and performance factors before they sign up for service.”
The consumer broadband labels will provide consumers with more information on service speed and reliability. It also should provide clarity when it comes to the costs of broadband service, including fees and other add-on charges that may appear on their bills.
The FCC’s Open Internet transparency rules require broadband Internet access service providers to disclose this information to consumers in an accurate, understandable and easy-to-find manner. These formats, while not mandated by the agency, are recommended by the Commission and will serve as a “safe harbor” to meet those requirements.
The Consumer Broadband Labels will include:

  • Price: Price points, including various charges that seem confusing to consumers like overage, equipment, early termination and administrative fees.
  • Data Allowances: This is the carrier-defined plan limit after which consumers will face some consequence, such as additional charges or slowed data speeds.
  • Performance: Broadband speed and other performance metrics.

 Here are sample labels:

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