FCC Consumer Label for Broadband Services
Comparing prices, performance and network practices of broadband service providers can be challenging, even for technology savvy consumers. With this in mind, the FCC created Open Internet transparency rules requiring providers to convey sufficient information for consumers to make informed choices about available broadband services. Based on recommendations from its Consumer Advisory Committee, the FCC provides templates for broadband labels – one for landline and one for mobile – that service providers may use to supply consumers with information about their services through the FCC Consumer Label.
If a provider uses a broadband label template, here's the type of information you can expect to see:
- Pricing details, including all of the various charges that seem mysterious to consumers – overage fees, equipment fees, early termination fees, other monthly fees beyond service fees such as insurance, administrative fees, or regulatory recovery fees.
- Monthly data allowance – namely, the carrier-defined plan limit after which consumers will incur additional charges.
- Broadband speed and other performance metrics.
- Network management practices – namely, precautions providers may take to manage heavy traffic on their networks.
Service providers who use the labels will satisfy the FCC's requirement to make transparency disclosures in the proper format, or a format that meets the needs of consumers. However, providers may still be in violation of FCC rules if the content of their labels is misleading or inaccurate or if they make misleading or inaccurate statements to customers in ads or elsewhere. In such cases, consumers can file complaints with the FCC at https://consumercomplaints.fcc.gov.
The new rules will go into effect later this year, but service providers may begin using the broadband label templates anytime. The labels can serve as a helpful comparison shopping tool for consumers. Look for and consider them when you shop for service.