The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will soon mandate broadband internet providers or ISPs to offer new labeling that clearly describes the services offered and all the fees included. A move like this has been a long time coming. The FCC first tried implementing voluntary labels in 2016 (image below), describing the fees and services very similar to nutrition labels accompanying food products.
T-Mobile happens to be the only carrier to be transparent about hidden costs and fees. But other ISPs are not so forthcoming. T-Mobile recently disclosed that American ISPs charged customers over $9 billion in extra fees in 2020.
The idea behind likening the new labeling to FDA’s nutrition labels (via Engadget) is to educate consumers about the fees involved. Similar to food items bought at a grocery store, these broadband labels would offer all the relevant details.
This would also quell the practice of hiding fee information in the fine print or at the bottom of the page. Moreover, ISPs routinely lure customers into their services with low costs, only for the prices to shoot up exponentially after six months.
The practice of charging unnecessary fees may not end with this ruling
FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said nutrition labels for broadband services would be a boon for the consumers. She said such a move is necessary given that broadband is now an essential component of everyday life for everyone.
“With these broadband nutrition labels we can compare service providers and plans, hold broadband providers to their promises, and foster more competition—which means better service and better prices,” Rosenworcel further explained.
Although broadband providers have been relatively quiet about this news, they’re unlikely to be happy. After all, such a move could take billions of dollars out of their revenues. As for the consumers, this step couldn’t come any sooner.
These labels will undoubtedly make the fees and hidden charges more visible. But it won’t stop the ISPs from charging them. Moreover, many customers in non-metros don’t usually have a long list of ISPs to choose from. This means that they’re stuck between one or two options. This continues to be a challenge for the consumers, particularly in rural portions of the U.S.