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FCC Unveils Nutrition Label-Inspired Disclosures for Broadband Service

New labels clearly spell out details about price and performance.


The Federal Communications Commission is borrowing a page from the Food and Drug Administration, unveiling new broadband labels that provide consumers with easy-to-understand details about the price and performance of their high-speed Internet service.

Chairman Tom Wheeler said the new labels, unveiled Monday, will help consumers make more informed choices about broadband service and easily compare providers. The agency says it receives more than 2,000 complaints a year about surprise fees popping up on bills.

“Customers deserve to know the price they will actually pay for a service,” Wheeler said.

The labels are designed to clearly spell out consumer costs, including charges for overages, equipment and early termination fees, and will disclose details about typical upstream and downstream speeds. In the case of wireless providers, the labels also explain what happens when consumers exceed their data limits — be it additional charges or throttled speeds.

The disclosures are the outgrowth of the FCC’s net neutrality rules, which require broadband Internet providers to disclose this information to consumers in a way that’s accurate, understandable and easy to find. The labels, developed based on the recommendations of a committee composed of consumer groups and industry representatives, are subject to approval by the Office of Management and Budget — through Internet providers can choose their own format.

Here’s what they’d look like:


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