FCC requires ISPs to provide broadband nutrition labels

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What you need to know

  • The FCC passed an order requiring all ISPs to provide a "nutrition label" for consumer choice when searching for internet.
  • These labels will offer information such as want-prices, speeds, fees, data allowances, and more key pieces of information.
  • These labels have been around since 2016 but were previously a voluntary act.

The FCC has brought down a new order that requires ISPs to provide information to aid in a consumer's purchase.

According to the FCC's order document, this new rule will require broadband providers to display "easy-to-understand" labels so consumers can comparison shop for services. These new labels, while they seem quite similar to nutrition labels appearing on food packages, will offer consumers information such as want-prices, speeds, fees, data allowances, and other key information.

The new requirement also offers aid through a few other features, like ensuring broadband providers show their actual label and not just an icon mentioning that it exists or a link to it. This is an effort of upfront clarity and transparency, so consumers gain all the facts as they search for the right internet.

FCC's template of how an ISPs nutrition label should look for consumers.

(Image credit: FCC)

ISPs must make this new label available through a customer's account portal. It is also now mandatory that a service provider offers the label to a customer upon request.

In an effort to bring about ease of comparison shopping, broadband providers should also make sure their labels are machine-readable. The FCC sees this as a way to assist third parties to collect and aggregate data to bring about comparison-shopping tools for potential consumers.

Attention to detail isn't ending here, as the FCC has adopted a Further Notice of Purposed Rulemaking so it can further refine and improve the rules set in place. The Commission wants to ensure that its consumer transparency goals are being met in the right ways through this method.

"Broadband is an essential service, for everyone, everywhere. Because of this, consumers need to know what they are paying for, and how it compares with other service offerings," said FCC Chairwoman Rosenworcel. "For over 25 years, consumers have enjoyed the convenience of nutrition labels on food products. We're now requiring internet service providers to display broadband labels for both wireless and wired services. Consumers deserve to get accurate information about price, speed, data allowances, and other terms of service up front."

The FCC unanimously voted to bring "nutritional labels" to broadband providers for consumers late in January 2022 as a requirement. These labels were previously a part of a 2016 decision, but it was voluntary if the ISP wanted to offer such information or not.

The idea of bringing these labels, and having them similar to our food packages, is because of their simplicity. Consumers can easily read everything the food contains and make a decision based on the facts presented.

Nickolas Diaz
News Writer

Nickolas is always excited about tech and getting his hands on it. Writing for him can vary from delivering the latest tech story to scribbling in his journal. When Nickolas isn't hitting a story, he's often grinding away at a game or chilling with a book in his hand.