Tuesday, April 5, 2016

FCC Aims To Ease Shopping For Broadband

New consumer broadband labels, unveiled by the Federal Communications Commission Monday, aim to educate buyers about the Internet service they are shopping for.

USAToday reports just as food labels tell you what you are about to eat, new consumer broadband labels let you know how big of a broadband bill you might be biting off before you sign a contract. Among the factors you can compare among providers are monthly charges, one-time charges such as activation fees, installation fees and early termination fees, as well as typical download and upload speeds.

The voluntary labels are "a simplified approach to the core information that consumers need to make an informed purchase decision," FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said during an event unveiling the labels Monday.

The labels, designed for home and mobile broadband service, look like "a nutrition label," he said. "It looks like the kind of thing you would see on food products."
The FCC’s Open Internet or Net neutrality rules, passed last year, require Internet service providers (ISPs) to disclose information about their services in an understandable fashion. The labels, which the FCC worked with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau on creating, are not mandatory. But they're recommended by the agency to bring ISPs into compliance.

Examples of the labels provided by the FCC show monthly charges and data allotments, along with costs for exceeding limits, as well as monthly regulatory fees and typical network performance levels.

The average monthly broadband bill is $60-$70, the FCC said. But taxes and fees can add as much as 40% to advertised broadband services, the agency says.

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