New internet ‘nutrition label’ aims to help de-mystify bills

New internet ‘nutrition label’ aims to help customers with confusing bills
Posted at 10:55 AM, Apr 10, 2024

Tired of opening your internet bill and trying to figure out precisely what you’re paying for each month? You’re not alone, and the federal government now requires internet service providers (ISPs) to be more transparent with their fees.

A new Federal Communications Commission rule goes into effect on April 10 that mandates ISPs to provide an easy-to-read breakdown of internet fees. And the new graphic has a familiar look: a nutrition label.

Whether you’re opening your next bill or visiting an internet provider’s store, you will find this new visual aid that looks almost identical to what you see on food packaging.

The new internet “nutrition label” comes from a 2023 FCC ruling with the promise to help consumers receive “easy-to-understand, and accurate information about the cost and performance of broadband services.”

“Consumers will finally get information they can use to comparison shop, avoid junk fees, and make informed choices about which high-speed internet service is the best fit for their needs and budget,” said FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel in the ruling’s press release.

The April 10 deadline applies to internet service providers with at least 100,000 subscribers. Smaller ISPs have until October 10 to meet the new requirement, according to the FCC broadband label fact sheet.

The streamlined label can help consumers not only see what they are paying for, but allow them to easily compare one company’s offerings to another.

While the new label provides a quick glance at broadband fees, it can be tricky to navigate some of the terms listed on the label.

Terms like introductory rates, monthly price, length of contract, and early termination fees are common in our everyday language.

However, the label also has line items that may leave some customers scratching their heads, like “pass-through fees.”

We had no idea what that meant, so we looked it up on the FCC’s helpful glossary on their internet label information page.

A “pass-through fee” simply means extra fees related to government programs (universal service or regulatory fees) that providers “pass through” to their customers.

All of the terms listed on the new labels are included on this reference page.

While we may not be able to avoid all those fees, at least now these labels will keep us informed about what our internet provider is charging us for and give us more power to comparison shop.