It’s time to unleash all the puns about grams of fiber in broadband services. At a press conference today, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director Richard Cordray showed off samples of new voluntary labels for broadband and mobile Internet service based off the very familiar-looking labeling used for nutritional information. They say they’ll better help users make price and service comparisons with easy-to-understand information about costs and performance.
“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,” Wheeler says. “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 reportedly provide consumers with more information on service speed and reliability and greater clarity regarding the costs of broadband service, including fees and other add-on charges. 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. The Commission says that these formats, —while not mandated by the agency — are “recommended” and will serve as a “safe harbor” to meet those requirements.
“Consumers deserve to know before they owe, with clear, upfront information about the prices, risks, and terms of the deal,” Cordray says. “Broadband is quickly becoming a necessary part of everyday life for millions of consumers. I commend Chairman Wheeler and the FCC for bringing new transparency to the broadband market, which will help people understand what they are getting before they sign up.”
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.
Filed Under: Industry regulations