FCC Seeks Comments on Proposed Rules Mandating Consumer Disclosures by Broadband ISPs (aka, “Nutrition Labels”)

The Federal Communication Commission (FCC) plans to take up a proposal to require “Nutrition Labels” for broadband service at the commission’s public meeting set for January 27, 2022.

The requirement for broadband service labeling stems from provisions in the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.

The funding bill established the FCC’s Affordable Connectivity Program providing for billions of dollars for affordable broadband service, and a mandate that the FCC create broadband service “nutrition labels” so that consumers can know what speed and quality of service they are getting, at what price, and with what fees attached.

“As directed by the new law, the Commission will consider a proposal to establish simple-to-understand broadband labels, whereby internet providers would disclose accurate information about prices, introductory rates, data allowances, and broadband speeds,” FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel wrote in a blog post announcing the agenda for the FCC’s monthly meeting.

According to Rosenworcel, the goal is to create new transparency in the broadband marketplace to make sure consumers know what they’re paying for, and increase incentives for carriers to compete on price and service.

The FCC created some broadband service labeling rules in 2016, and the current proceeding would consider how those might be updated.  The Commission’s goals and questions being asked in the proceeding include the following:

  • FCC proposes to require broadband Internet access service providers to display, at the point of sale, labels to disclose to consumers certain information about prices, introductory rates, data allowances, broadband speeds, and management practices, among other things;
  • FCC asks whether broadband service offerings and consumers’ use of broadband services have changed sufficiently since the Commission approved labels back in 2016, therefore necessitating changes to the labels’ content and/or format, or whether there are any other reasons to change the content or format of the labels;
  • Seeks comment on where the labels should be displayed to best inform consumers;
  • Seeks comment on enforcement issues related to the label requirement, including how the Commission should ensure the accuracy of label content;
  • Seeks comment on implementation issues, including the time by which broadband providers should be required to display the labels; and
  • Proposes to ensure that any required labels are accessible to persons with disabilities and that any broadband consumer label advances equity in the provision of and access to digital communications services and products for all people of the United States, without discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, or disability.

If your company is interested in submitting Comments or Reply Comments or otherwise keeping track of developments in this proceeding, please contact the attorney assigned to your account or you may reach out to Jonathan S. Marashlian at jsm@commlawgroup.com with questions/concerns or an expression of interest in following regulatory developments impacting broadband services and Internet Service Providers, generally.

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