FCC’s Proposed “Broadband Facts” Labels Aim to Inform Consumer Choices

Pete CodellaBroadband

Broadband Facts Consumer LabelsOn March 4th, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) proposed new Consumer Broadband Labels in hopes of improving transparency for fixed and mobile broadband consumers.  The new “Broadband Facts” labels draw influence from nutrition labels, utilizing an easily recognizable format to better reach consumers.  The labels will provide information about price and performance for consumers.

Broadband Facts labels will list price points, and provide information on equipment rental charges, overage, early termination fees, and other potential cost-increasing fees.  In addition, labels will clearly state data allowances that, if exceeded, result in charges to the consumer or slowed speeds.  Lastly, labels will provide information about speed and other performance metrics.

To develop the new labels, the FCC worked with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and its Consumer Advisory Committee.  Members of the committee, which is composed of industry representatives and consumer groups, unanimously supported the new labels.  Chairman Wheeler announced the labels with CFPB Director Richard Cordray.

The 2015 Open Internet Order directed the Consumer Advisory Committee “to recommend a disclosure format that should be clear and easy to read—similar to a nutrition label found on food items—to allow consumers to easily compare the services of different providers.”  The Committee took this guidance literally, creating a product that is aimed at helping consumers decide which broadband service is best for them.

Labels will not be fully utilized until the Office of Management and Budget gives final approval to new transparency rules adopted in the 2015 Open Internet Order, but service providers can choose to use the labels in the meantime.

To read the FCC’s press release, click here: