FCC Requires Consumer Broadband Labels for ISPs

The FCC will require fixed and mobile internet service providers (ISPs) to prominently display information about their internet service access plans in the form of consumer labels that resemble food nutrition labels.

The “Broadband Facts” label shows information about pricing, introductory rates, data allowances, performance metrics, and whether an ISP participates in the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP). ISPs will have to display labels next to advertised plans, and not as just icons or links. The facts on the labels will tell customers exactly what they will pay for before they commit to subscriptions.

ISPs must display the labels at points-of-sale, meaning at retail stores and/or the ISP’s website. If an ISP cannot assure that consumers can access the Broadband Facts Label at the point-of-sale online or offline, the ISP is required to either send a hard copy by postal mail or email, or read the entire label to consumers over the phone.

ISPs will need to:

    • Identify the name of the service plan and the base monthly price for stand-alone broadband service, and indicate whether it is an introductory price
    • List any additional charges such as recurring and one-time charges and fees
    • Provide a link to any discounts and bundles offered
    • Display typical upload and download speeds and latency
    • Link to the ISP’s network management practices, privacy policy, and the ACP webpage
    • Indicate whether the ISP participates in the ACP

The label must be accessible to people with disabilities in a machine-readable format at all points-of-sale. If an ISP markets its services in other languages, the labels must also be available in those languages.

The Broadband Label Rules, which implement Section 60504 of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, will go into effect on January 17, 2023. However, ISPs with more than 100,000 subscribers will be required to comply with the new label requirements within six months of OMB approval of the new information collection requirements. ISPs with 100,000 or fewer subscribers will have one year from the date of OMB approval to comply.

The FCC is currently seeking comments on whether:

    • It should adopt specific criteria based on the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG)
    • ISPs should be required to make labels in languages other than those in which they market services
    • ISPs should display discounts, bundles, and other variables in future versions of the label
    • There are more appropriate ways to measure speed and latency other than “typical,” for purposes of label disclosure
    • ISPs should be required to provide additional information in an interactive label, for example:
      • Include an “expand” option to provide more detailed information on specific categories of information
      • Include an interactive tool for customers to input their household Internet activity that would estimate their Internet experience under each plan
    • Templates or fillable PDFs would ease the burden of ISPs creating labels and enhance consistency in the marketplace
    • The FCC should collect and store all labels

Comments on the proposed rules are due by January 17, 2023, and Reply Comments are due by February 14, 2023.

If you have questions about the new Broadband Label Rules, please contact any attorney in our Broadband, Spectrum, and Communications Infrastructure practice group.