FCC Announces Consumer Broadband Nutrition Labels”

On April 4, 2016, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC or Commission) unveiled new Consumer Broadband Labels to provide consumers of mobile and fixed broadband Internet access service (BIAS) with easily understandable information about the price and performance of their service. As we discussed in an earlier blog post, the labels stem from the 2015 Open Internet Order, which directed the FCC's Consumer Advisory Committee (CAC) to recommend “nutrition label”-style disclosures for BIAS offerings (the CAC released its recommendations in November 2015). The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau also worked closely with the FCC on the design and content of the labels. While the Commission will not require BIAS providers to use the Consumer Broadband Labels, if providers do use them, they will receive safe harbor from the format requirements of the Commission’s Open Internet transparency rule, which requires BIAS providers to disclose relevant information about their service to consumers in "an accurate, understandable and easy-to-find manner." The labels include the following information:

  • Price: Price of service and other charges (e.g., overage, equipment, early termination and administrative fees).
  • Data Allowances: carrier-defined plan limitations after which consumers will face some consequence, e.g., additional charges or slowed data speeds.
  • Performance: network speed and other performance metrics.
The safe harbor will go into effect when the Office of Management and Budget approves the still-pending enhanced transparency requirements in the 2015 Open Internet Order, which have been undergoing Paperwork Reduction Act review since the Order was adopted in March 2015.

Here are the sample labels as released by the FCC:

The FCC's Public Notice announcing the labels also includes instructions for preparing them. If you have any questions about these new labels or how you can adapt them to your own practices, please feel free to contact the authors of this post or your usual Kelley Drye attorney.