Reaction to FCC's Broadband Consumer Labels

"These labels are not just iconic. They are extraordinarily useful because they help consumers make good choices," said Federal Communications Commission Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel. "Earlier this year at the Federal Communications Commission, we proposed to do the same thing with broadband. That’s because broadband is now an essential service—for everyone, everywhere. Today, with the support of Congress in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, we adopt rules that, for the first time, require internet service providers to display broadband nutrition labels for both wireless and wired services." She continued, "Over time, we want to refine and improve our broadband nutrition labels. That’s why the agency also kicks off a further rulemaking today that asks about how to incorporate more pricing and discount data on the label itself, how to measure service reliability, and how to make broadband nutrition labels even more accessible. In the end our goal is to make the purchasing of broadband service more simple and more competitive for consumers everywhere."

"A consumer’s ability to access clear, comprehensible, and accurate information regarding his or her broadband internet access service plan is necessary to ensure a competitive and innovative marketplace," said FCC Commissioner Geoffrey Starks. "This Order will provide consumers the transparency they need and deserve as they consider broadband options. Our action today fulfills our statutory obligation under the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. But, the labels are a byproduct of a longer period of collaborative work between industry, public interest advocates, and the Commission—specifically the 2016 recommendation of the Commission’s Consumer Advisory Committee. I want to thank all of the stakeholders that have led to the label we create today. I strongly feel that some of our best outcomes come from proceedings where different advocates work together in pursuit of the same goal."

Ryan Johnston, Senior Policy Counsel, at Next Century Cities said, "Next Century Cities applauds the critical step the Commission has taken to give consumers clear information about current and potential broadband subscriptions. Including promotional pricing, machine readability, contract terms, and granular information about fees and discounts. These are essential components that inform consumers about the true cost of broadband. While this is a good first step, there is more work to be done. Without including the label on a consumer’s bill, the broadband nutrition label falls short of its goal. Consumers may not be comprehensively informed in the event that something changes. Instead, consumers will have to continually check their bills against online labels, something they may not have the presence of mind to do on a monthly basis."

“The FCC order is an important step toward cleaning up the inscrutable mess that is internet billing," said Free Press Policy Director Joshua Stager. "Consumers are all too familiar with broadband bills that bury junk fees and service terms in the fine print. People deserve to know what they’re paying for, and this label will help. But this week’s action is just the start. The FCC acknowledged that the order is imperfect and will require strengthening in the future. In particular, the failure to require the label’s display on a customer’s monthly bill is a disappointing concession to monopolist ISPs like AT&T and Comcast, and a big loss for consumers. It’s unlikely this would have happened had the Senate already confirmed Gigi Sohn as the FCC’s fifth commissioner, thus breaking the agency’s unprecedented two-year deadlock."

“Consumers in the U.S. deserve to know what they pay for when they buy internet service," said Chhaya Kapadia, interim director of New America’s Open Technology Institute. "The infrastructure law promised to solve the problem by directing the FCC to make common sense, standardized price and service disclosures mandatory for internet service providers. Now, the obstruction of Gigi Sohn's nomination to the agency has caused a 2-2 deadlock, watering down what was otherwise a clear win for frustrated internet users. Meaningful transparency requires consistent access to pricing information in the obvious place that consumers would look for that information—their monthly bill. Once Gigi Sohn is confirmed, the FCC should use this FNPRM as an opportunity to improve the new labels. It’s difficult to overstate the need for transparency when you’re buying broadband service, so we need to get this right."

Reaction to FCC's Broadband Consumer Labels Rosenworcel Statement: FCC Requires Broadband Providers To Display Labels to Help Consumers Starks Statement: FCC Requires Broadband Providers To Display Labels to Help Consumers Next Century Cities Applauds the Release of the Consumer Broadband Nutrition Label Rules But Urges the FCC to Go Farther Free Press Welcomes 'Broadband Nutrition Label' But Urges Further FCC Action to Make Internet Billing Transparent and Fair OTI Praises Broadband Nutrition Label Order, Urges Stronger FCC Requirements