It’s incredibly frustrating to know what you’re getting when purchasing internet service. Most companies operate in complete or near-complete monopolies here in the US. Even worse is you don’t know the price you’ll actually pay due to fees nor will you always know the speeds you’re supposed to be getting. That’s about to change.
In 2016 the FCC came up with “broadband nutrition labels” for ISPs to use. Similar to the labels on all food, this would break down everything in plain terms what you’re getting and what you’re going to pay. Finally, six years later, ISPs will now be required to do this beginning in November. Alex Perry at Mashable has more.
Here’s what you might expect to find on these labels, based on a sample the FCC accompanied with the 2016 announcement. The FCC doesn’t have updated samples yet, so some of this could be subject to change:
Monthly cost, both for a month-to-month plan and a long-term contract plan if necessary
Data caps, including overage fees
Any hidden fees like activation and installation costs
Typical download and upload speeds, not just idealized maximum speedsMashable
It’s important to note how important this label will be for customers. ISPs will advertise their “up to” speeds which are not realistic most of the time. Additionally, companies cap their service in order to wring more money out of their customers. Don’t even get me started about the absurdly-low upload speeds these companies give. This information gives more power to the people and it will be a welcome addition. Hopefully one day in the future the FCC will finally classify internet access as a utility so real competition, reliability, and service will come to everyone in the US.