FCC Now Requires ‘Nutrition Labels’ for Internet Service Plans

The broadband facts labels, modeled after nutrition labels, will display prices, speeds and other service facts.
Cara Smith
By Cara Smith 
Edited by Amanda Derengowski

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Is your internet service provider charging too much? It may be a tough question to answer with certainty.

Shopping for broadband internet is expected to become more transparent. Starting Wednesday, major internet service providers will be required to display consumer labels that break down all associated fees, as well as ways to save, the Federal Communications Commission announced.

The labels are modeled after the well-known nutrition fact labels on food products and are required to display broadband speeds, prices, introductory rate details and data allowances. They’ll also include links to information about available discounts or service bundles, network management practices and the company’s privacy policies, according to the announcement.

Starting Wednesday, the majority of internet service providers are required to display these labels at in-store and online points of sale. Those with fewer than 100,000 subscribers will be required to comply by Oct. 10. Providers who offer internet only as a bundled service will not be required to use the labels.

And if comparing dense labels sounds overwhelming, it’s expected to get easier. Also by Oct. 10, all providers will have to make their labels “machine readable,” which the FCC said it will require so that third parties can easily collect pricing information across providers to create comparison-shopping tools and guides.

Easier comparisons could lead to savings

These changes to internet pricing transparency come as many Americans are paying more for their internet service than they paid when they first signed up, according to a survey of 2,500 U.S. consumers by U.S. News & World Report. That survey, conducted in late 2023, found that the average cost of a U.S. internet bill is $89, compared to $77 when the consumer initially signed up for the service.

Roughly 95% of U.S. adults use the internet, and 8 out of every 10 subscribe to a broadband internet service at home, according to the Pew Research Center. The new labels could make it easier for those consumers to save money on internet services, comparison shop for affordable plans or even confirm that they already have a good price.

The FCC’s announcement is part of a pattern of bolstered consumer protections that the Biden administration has championed or rolled out in recent months. In January, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau announced proposed restrictions on overdraft fees that it says could save Americans over $3.5 billion each year.

In March, the CFPB issued a rule to lower the typical credit card late fee from $32 to $8, which it says should translate to more than $10 billion in annual savings among the roughly 45 million consumers who are charged late fees.