New labels should make internet pricing easier to understand

Wouldn’t it be nice if shopping for internet service was simple and easy to read like an itemized invoice or even a nutrition label? For many customers, that’s a reality.

The Federal Communications Commission now requires broadband companies to have new labels that should make it easier for customers to know what they are paying for. This comes after nearly a decade of lobbying by Consumer Reports and other advocacy groups.

The new labels show the provider’s name, the plan’s name, and the base monthly price for internet service, along with any additional one-time or recurring fees, like installation charges, modem rental fees, and other equipment-related fees, which must be separated from the base price.

“Cable bills are one area where there are the most consumer complaints. Sign up for one plan, and then you’re getting a broadband modem fee, you’re getting a regional sports package fee, you’re getting a weird tax that’s four letters, that you don’t know what it is. These are often monopolies, so they can get away with it, and you don’t have a lot of choices. But now you know what they’re charging you,” said Consumer Reports’ Justin Brookman.

The terms and length of promotional pricing must be outlined. Along with the price of service once the promotion expires. Companies should have links to information about discounts if customers bundle their internet with TV or other services.

The rule applies to all internet services. Smaller ISPs have until October to comply. The FCC says consumers can file a complaint if they believe an ISP isn’t complying with the new rules.

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