In the context: First, Apple began requiring apps in the App Store to display “privacy labels” in their descriptions. The FCC is now considering rules requiring broadband providers to post “food labels” about their services, rather than hiding them in fine print in their contracts.
On Thursday, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced that would be taking a page from the Food and Drug Administration’s code of practice and applying it to Internet Service Providers (ISPs). Suggested Set regulations approved by all four commissioners would require ISPs to provide consumers with greater transparency about their services through labels modeled after food labels.
“In the grocery store, nutrition labels make it easy to compare calories and carbs,” FCC Chair Jessica Rosenworsel said on Twitter this morning. “We need the same simple labels for broadband so we can compare prices, speeds and data. No more fine print fees.”
At the grocery store, nutrition labels make it easy to compare calories and carbs. We need the same simple labels for broadband so we can compare prices, speeds and data. No more fees in fine print. That’s why the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is making efforts to develop #broadbandfoodlabels.
— Jessica Rosenworcel (@JRosenworcel) January 27, 2022
Rosenworth points to a tendency for broadband providers to impose hidden fees and service restrictions on consumers, such as modem rentals, download speeds, and data limits. By subscribing to a service, consumers are often left alone to find these things. Many customers have complained about receiving invoices with undisclosed fees as high as 50 percent of the advertised subscription price or more.
Under the proposed rules, providers will be required to clearly display both the negotiated promotional rate and the regular price of each service plan. They will also be required to disclose any data limits and their excess fees. Other expenses such as modem rentals, government taxes, and surcharges must also be included.
The FCC hopes to do away with the vague and misleading language used to describe speed by making labels indicate “typical” download and upload speeds. Currently, most ISPs are promoting their plans by using the fastest speeds achievable and inserting “before” in the ad set – “With lightning speed up to 400 Mbps…”. Typical speeds as well as latency and packet loss information provide a more accurate representation. what the client can expect.
It is not clear if the rules will eventually change in terms of services provided or costs to the consumer. Since broadband providers essentially run an oligopoly, these new rules simply mean that they will have to openly lure the customer rather than hide them.