Depending on their size, broadband providers have six or 12 months to come into compliance with the FCC’s Consumer Broadband Label guidelines.
Impact: In an Oct. 10 press release, the FCC announced that most providers will have to start using the mandated broadband nutrition labels within six months, requiring full compliance by April 10, 2024. Smaller providers with a subscriber base of 100,000 or fewer customers get a full year, until Oct. 10, 2024, before they too will need to display the labels. The edict comes two years after the FCC started investigating the need for consumer broadband labels as mandated by the 2021 Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.
Last November, the FCC approved the labels in the first of a series of three orders that included amendments related to comments from both the public and the broadband industry. The FCC released the final amended version of the labels in August, at which point it said no additional changes would be considered and sent the guidelines to the Office of Management and Budget for review.
The labels have been described by advocates and the FCC as vital to increasing transparency around broadband costs, with Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel calling them “a big win for consumers.” The labels have been designed to provide customers with clear and concise information about their broadband service options. Under the rules, providers must include monthly pricing, which encompasses introductory rates as well as fees and taxes; typical upload and download speeds; and latency. Links to discount and bundle options customers can use to reduce their cost are also required, as is information about providers’ participation in the Affordable Connectivity Program.
With all of that information, the labels will likely end up being quite lengthy, as evidenced by the FCC’s sample label, and FCC guidelines call for them to be prominently displayed online. This will enable third
-party websites to better compare plans, providing customers with another resource with which to compare their options. There’s also a requirement to make the labels accessible in an online portal, and all providers have a year to set those up. With extensive information about their broadband options at their fingertips, it’s expected more knowledgeable consumers will be able to make more informed choices about which plan and provider are right for them.