ISPs roll out mandatory broadband 'nutrition' labels that show speeds, fees and data allowances

These labels, required by the FCC, could help put an end to hidden fees and sudden extra charges.

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You can now ensure that you're not going to be hit by hidden fees and taxes before you sign up with an internet service provider (ISP). Starting today, big ISPs with more than 100,000 subscribers will be required to display "nutrition labels" both in store and online under a new FCC rule. Those labels have to show the companies' plans, fees and any additional costs, such as activation fees and upfront or rental fees for modems and other equipment.

They also have to show whether a particular amount that's being advertised is an introductory or a discounted rate and how long you can enjoy that lower rate. Plus, the labels have to indicate each particular plan's download and upload speeds, as well as any early termination fee associated with it. ISPs can't hide these labels behind multiple clicks or camouflage them with other elements that make them hard to see. They have to be accessible from your customer account portal, and ISPs should give you a copy if you ask.

The FCC first floated the idea of nutrition labels for ISPs back in 2016, but it wasn't until 2022 that it formally introduced rules requiring them to be displayed at the companies' points of sale. As you can see in the image below, it resembles the nutrition labels for food and will (theoretically and hopefully) account for every dollar you pay for a wired or wireless plan. Back when the rule was announced, FCC Chairperson Jessica Rosenworcel explained that the agency chose to approve and implement it as part of its efforts to "end the kind of unexpected fees and junk costs that can get buried in long and mind-numbingly confusing statements of terms and conditions."

Based on the FCC's website, providers with less than 100,000 subscribers will be given a bit more time to comply and have until October 10. And in case you come across any ISP that isn't displaying any label even when they should or is showing inaccurate information, you can file a complaint with the commission through its official portal.

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