FCC unanimously approves ‘nutrition labels’ for broadband services

Image: Alex Castro / The Verge

Understanding your broadband speeds could be as simple as reading the nutrition label on the back of the food you buy at the grocery store.

The Federal Communications Commission voted unanimously on Thursday to press forward with a new plan that would require internet providers to offer new labels with information about their prices, speed, data allowances, and network management. This could lead to lower prices down the line.

The FCC said in a press release on Thursday that access to accurate, simple to understand information about broadband Internet access services helps consumers make informed choices.

President Biden signed an executive order last summer to promote competition. The order requires the FCC to give internet subscribers more choices and better internet service. The agency acted on the order on Thursday and began a commenting process before the rules are required to go into effect.

The Democratic Commissioner said that the comment on today will help households compare prices and service offerings, making it easier for them to find the right package and the best deal.

Nutrition labels aren't a new idea. During the last year of the Obama administration, the labels were introduced but failed to take off under Trump. Consumers have complained for years about sudden price hikes and surprise fees, and these labels would force providers to be more transparent.

The labels concept was endorsed by the NCTA. In a statement this week, the organization said that cable operators are committed to providing consumers with relevant information about broadband services.