On April 4, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) unveiled a new Consumer Broadband Label to help consumers when signing up for home and mobile data plans. Your BBB® would like to pass on this information to consumers.
The new labels resemble nutrition labels on food products, but instead of telling us about calories and carbs, they cover average speeds, data caps, and monthly fees, in plain language. The new label is designed to not overwhelm consumers with too much info. The home broadband label includes monthly costs, one-time costs, hardware rental costs, data caps, latency and typical downstream and upstream speeds. Speed should not be the “up to speed” but the “typical peak usage download speed for your chosen tier of service.” Other monthly fees should include regulatory and other costs not mandated by state and local governments.
The mobile edition of the label should indicate what the data cap is on purchased plans, and what happens if you exceed that cap. It should specify whether you are charged for excess data, have your speed throttled, or have your service cut off until the billing period resets. The mobile label also includes one-time and recurring monthly fees, and outlines typical performance for 4G LTE and 3G networks.
Monthly data plans do not include costly new phones. However, Internet Service Providers (ISP) are not being required to use these disclosure labels. They can still choose an alternative. The FCC is encouraging use of the broadband label by granting “safe harbor” status. If an ISP fills out and applies this label to what is deemed “the best of their ability,” they will be considered to be in compliance. Comparing ISPs against each other is great if you have more than one option available to serve your home or business. However, tens of millions of Americans live in monopoly territories where competitive options don’t exist. Read Article on New ISP Labels from The Consumerist.
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