FCC proposes mandatory labels that clearly explain broadband services

ISPs would have no choice but to tell you about caps and throttling.

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The FCC's voluntary broadband labels might not be quite so voluntary in the future. The FCC has proposed rules requiring point-of-sale labels that clearly illustrate what you'll get when you sign up with an internet service provider. As before, the labels would include not only prices and speeds, but also data caps, "network management" policies like throttling and other details you'd likely appreciate.

Officials also want to know if the nutrition-style 2016 labels are enough to help customers make informed buying decisions. The Commission is likewise considering new guidance on where ISPs would display these labels.

The proposal comes in response to the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act that President Biden signed into law in November. The law required broadband providers to make "consumer-friendly" labels, tasking the FCC with devising new rules within a year of the Act's passage.

The labels would theoretically spur competition by making it easier for customers to compare internet services and choose the one that offers the best value. However, they might only be of limited use. Americans are frequently stuck with broadband duopolies, and in some cases monopolies. While that's improving with the rise of wireless home internet and higher-quality satellite service, many customers won't have meaningful choices for a long time.