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FCC moves forward with plans to require broadband 'nutrition labels'

The new rules would require internet service providers to display easy-to-understand labels to help consumers comparison shop.
Written by Stephanie Condon, Senior Writer

The US Federal Communications Commission on Thursday proposed new rules that would require internet service providers (ISPs) to prominently display easy-to-understand labels to help consumers comparison shop for broadband services. Under the proposal, ISPs would have to display the labels -- modeled after nutrition labels found on food packaging -- at the point of sale. 

The proposed labels show prices, speeds, data allowances, network management practices, and other key broadband service information. 


An example of a blank label for fixed broadband.


"Access to accurate, simple-to-understand information about broadband internet access services helps consumers make informed choices and is central to a well-functioning marketplace that encourages competition, innovation, low prices, and high-quality service," the FCC wrote in a release Thursday.

The FCC first approved this style of label for ISPs to display on a voluntary basis in 2016. Now, ISPs will be required to display this kind of information under the recently-passed Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. The bill also included more than $65 billion to build out broadband networks and make broadband more affordable. Under the new law, the FCC has a year to set up the new broadband labeling requirements. 

The next step is for the FCC to hear from the public. The agency is seeking comments on things like: how consumers evaluate broadband service plans; whether the 2016 labels will assist consumers with the purchase process; whether the 2016 labels should be updated in terms of content and format; and whether the commission should provide new guidance about where broadband providers must display such labels.

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