Broadband plans to get "nutrition labels"

Opaque, confusing, and deceptive: getting service providers to honestly describe their broadband internet "plans" is such a lost cause that the Federal Communications Commission is imposing "nutrition labels" on them to show customers what they're actually getting.

The new labels, which go live beginning Wednesday and that all major internet service providers (ISPs) will now be required to show, are among the latest steps by the US government to help consumers make sense of the mix of plans, fees and promotional rates on the market today.

The transparency the labels provide could help Americans save money, FCC and White House officials say.

FCC bureau chief Alejandro Roark: "The FCC borrowed the nutrition label model format from food products because we wanted to make basic information about broadband internet service easily recognizable and easy to understand."

ISPs fought this for years: hiding what plans offer and what they cost seems to be really important to them.

Major broadband providers have fought vigorously over the years to kill the rule, arguing that such labels would be too costly and complicated to implement. Some consumer advocates also criticize the FCC for not addressing the more serious problem of regional broadband monopolies. Many Americans, especially in rural or less economically prosperous areas, only have one or two options for their broadband provider. Adding to the sense of urgency is that a program that gives low-income Americans additional money to purchase broadband internet plans is set to expire at the end of the month.

I see my "$89" Fios plan has somehow become a $139 Fios plan over the few years I've had it, somehow without any interaction with me! Time for a phone call.

Previously: Telcoms lobbyists have convinced 26 states to ban or restrict municipal broadband