FCC Unveils Rules for Clear Broadband Labels to Help Consumers Comparison Shop
Trey PaulSenior Editor
Trey Paul is a CNET senior editor covering broadband. His 20+ years of experience as a writer and editor include time at CNET's sister site, Allconnect, and working with clients like Yahoo!, Google, The New York Times and Choice Hotels. An avid movie fan, Trey's career also includes being a film and TV critic while pursuing a degree in New York.
ExpertiseHome internet and broadband, including plans, providers, internet speeds and connection types. Movies and film studies.Credentials
Master's degree in Cinema Studies from NYU and interviews with Conan O'Brien, Stan Lee and some of his biggest Star Trek childhood idols
The Federal Communications Commission is moving forward with new rules requiring broadband providers to have consistent labels for all their offerings.
Why it matters
Uniform labels will help customers better understand what they're purchasing and aid in comparison shopping. The more consumers can compare apples to apples (and find the best deals), the more competitive the marketplace should become.
The Federal Communications Commission on Thursday unveiled rules that will require all internet service providers to display clear labels for their services -- similar to the nutrition labels on food products -- showing exactly what the customer is purchasing. It's following up on a mandate from the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which directed the FCC to require providers to have consumer-friendly labels for both wired and wireless services.
The new broadband labels will include information such as price, speed, fees, data allowances and other terms of service. The FCC's rules will require ISPs to display this information at the point of sale, so consumers can better understand what they're purchasing before signing up for service. It will also make it easier to comparison shop and find the best, most affordable plan.
"You shouldn't have to be a lawyer to know just what is in your internet service plan," said FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel. "Broadband nutrition labels are designed to make it simpler for consumers to know what they are getting, hold providers to their promises, and benefit from greater competition -- which means better service and prices for everyone."
Locating local internet providers
Though the FCC has not arrived at a final draft of the new broadband label, it does give a sample of what it might look like and the categories to be included. The FCC noted that it's open to further refinements down the road based on customer feedback. It's also taking steps to adopt language and accessibility requirements as it puts the product together.
So when will we see these new labels? That's yet to be determined.