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Internet providers roll out broadband "nutrition" labels for consumers

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Beginning Wednesday, internet service providers (ISPs) will be trying to make it easier for consumers to understand what's in their monthly internet bills. The Federal Communications Commission is now requiring providers to provide notices that resemble nutrition labels that break down what they're getting and how much the individual parts of their internet service cost. 

The content of the labels won't be calories or grams of sugar and fat, though. Instead, broadband consumers will be able to see information including monthly price, discounts and bundles, internet speed range for plans, the amount of data included each month, network management and privacy policies, customer support contacts, as well as any additional charges and terms, including early termination and late fees.

Sample of internet broadband "nutrition" label internet service providers will be using to inform consumers about the costs of internet services. Provided by FCC

The new labels will give consumers a way to more quickly compare plans, based on price and internet speeds.. For example someone seeking a high-speed connection for online gaming would find the typical download, upload and latency speeds useful. Others who may be more focused on price would look at the top of the label for the cost of monthly price and additional charges for a particular service plan.

The largest ISPs will have to display these labels to consumers before they purchase a service plan either online or in a store. The information is required for any standalone home or fixed internet service, as well as mobile broadband plans, according to an FCC fact sheet. 

The price breakdowns on the label may be used for comparison shopping purposes. In a video message about the announcement released Wednesday morning, President Biden referred to the move as an effort to eliminate so-called junk fees. 

"Folks, my administration is taking a major step toward eliminating junk fees on internet bills," Mr. Biden said in a video message on his POTUS social media accounts. "The FCC is requiring internet providers to tell you exactly what you're paying, exactly what you're getting, when you purchase your internet plan, all on one simple label," President Biden said. 

The new label originates from an October 2023 FCC rule that  requires ISPs with over 100,000 subscribers to display the label at the time of purchase. ISPs with 100,000 or fewer customers have until Oct. 10 to display the label for customers. 

By then, providers will also be required to make the consumer label machine readable, which will allow third parties to better compile the data on internet service plans so consumers can compare plans.

Some internet providers have already jumped ahead of the FCC's deadline and are already using the labels.

"Verizon supports the goal of the FCC Broadband labels in helping to ensure consumers have all the facts before choosing a home internet provider, which is why we chose to launch the labels last month, in advance of the April 10 federal deadline," a Verizon spokesperson told CBS News.

Google Fiber, a subsidiary of Alphabet that offers high speed internet plans in select markets, was the first to unveil its label for consumers.

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