FCC Introduces Nutrition-Inspired Labels for Broadband Service

by Matt Klassen on April 11, 2016

83322_830x750In an effort to increase healthy decision making when it comes to food, government regulators have long imposed the addition of nutrition labels on all food items sold in stores across the country, so the public can know just how many calories and chemicals are in each and every Twinkie they consume.

While I’m unsure of just how successful such nutritional labels are for deterring the consumption of junk food, at least we can say that such information demystifies the food creation process and lets people interested in such things make informed decisions.

Now in a moment of clarity and inspiration, the Federal Communications Commission has decided to adopt a similar practice when it comes to parsing broadband service agreements, using such labels to give consumers a better picture of the pricing, speed, and bandwidth they are paying for, hopefully helping increase awareness while decreasing service and performance related complaints.

On average the FCC receives around 2,000 complaints a year regarding fees and problems associated with broadband Internet service. Often times bills, which normally average between $60 and $70 a month, can be bloated by other things like taxes and fees, leaving consumers paying more than a expected while often times getting less than they wanted.

In an effort to assuage such concerns, help people get informed, and ultimately increase opportunities for competition and market differentiation, the FCC hopes that adopting this sort of straightforward nutrition-style format will offer information to those who are interested, without making regulations overly intrusive or onerous.

“The more consumers know, the better the opportunity for competition,” FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said in a statement. “And that we can achieve that kind of transparency without intrusive regulation is also an important step forward and an important signal.”

The labels themselves, which again will look like nutrition labels, will provide key details about one’s broadband agreement, including information on price, data caps, connection speeds, and management practices. All this, as I said, to increase transparency and build trust, helping remove suspicion around an industry that has for many years now largely done what it has wanted, with little recourse or oversight.

“These labels provide consumers clarity about the broadband service they are purchasing, not only helping them to make more informed choices but also preventing surprises when the first bill arrives,” Wheeler said. “Customers deserve to know the price they will actually pay for a service and to be fully aware of other components such as data limits and performance factors before they sign up for service.”

Now it should be noted that service providers are not legally bound to adopt this nutrition-style labelling system, but they are legally obligated to increase transparency, and the FCC is pushing for industry adoption of its label system.

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Written by: Matt Klassen. www.digitcom.ca. Follow TheTelecomBlog.com by: RSS, Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube.

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