FCC Holds Second Public Hearing on Broadband Consumer Labels

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The Federal Communications Commission heard from the public on April 7 as the agency focuses on plans to create broadband consumer labels. This was the second FCC public hearing on so-called nutrition labels as the agency revives an effort from late in the Obama administration to stick the information on internet service provider (ISP) plans. One common thread was that even when information is available on internet service quality, consumers don't know enough about the specifics to grasp what it means for their own online needs. Consumers told the FCC there's no good way to comparison shop for ISPs given the lack of consistent data disclosures. FCC Commissioner Geoffrey Starks said at the hearing's outset that "to be truly useful to consumers, these labels must be simple, accurate, and user-friendly." Starks said the FCC is still working to resolve multiple questions: whether broadband services and the way consumers use them have significantly changed since the 2016 labels; where the new labels should be displayed to best inform consumers; how the FCC should ensure label accuracy; and the appropriate time frame for the commission to require broadband providers to meet the labeling requirements. FCC staff wrapped up the hearing saying they had a better grasp of what stakeholders want as the FCC moves to the next steps. The infrastructure bill requires the FCC to sign off on the labels by the end of 2022.

Consumers Often Flummoxed By Broadband Info, FCC Told