Internet providers must now be more transparent about fees, pricing, FCC says

Category: Technology/Innovations


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. pricing / ˈpraɪ sɪŋ / (n.) – the set or decided costs for products or services that a business offers

    The restaurant is known for its delicious food and affordable pricing.

  2. sign up / saɪn ʌp / (phrasal v.) – to officially join or start something, such as a service, event, or membership, often by signing a document

    John is signing up for the cooking class to learn new recipes and techniques.

  3. hike / haɪk / (n.) – a sudden increase or rise in something, such as prices, fees, or rates

    The recent price hike in gasoline has increased transportation costs.

  4. introductory / ˌɪn trəˈdʌk tə ri / (adj.) – (of business) relating to the rates, offers, or services provided to customers when they first start using a product or service, usually to attract them

    The introductory offer provides a discounted price for new customers.

  5. pile on / paɪl ɒn / (phrasal v.) – to increase quickly

    The tasks seemed to pile on as the deadline came, causing stress among the team members.


Read the text below.

Much like nutritional labels on food products, “broadband labels” for internet packages tell you just what is going into the pricing of your service, thanks to new rules adopted by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in April.

“If you’ve ever shopped for home or mobile internet, you can understand how hard it can be to understand what you’re actually paying for,” said Jon Donenberg, Deputy Director of the White House National Economic Council, on a call with reporters. “The broadband nutrition label is a tool that can help consumers make sure they have a clear, straightforward explanation of home and mobile services before signing up for anything.”

Following the design of FDA food labels, these broadband labels provide easy-to-understand, accurate information about the cost and performance of high-speed internet service to help consumers avoid junk fees (opaque and misleading fee structures), price hikes, and other unexpected costs.

Internet service providers selling home access or mobile broadband plans are required to have a label for each plan beginning April 10.

The labels are mandated to appear at any point of sale, including online and in stores, and they are required to disclose all pricing information—including introductory rates, data allowances, and speeds. The labels also include links to information about network management practices and privacy policies.

Hidden fees and unexpected rate hikes have dogged consumers shopping for internet service for years, and the Biden administration has been cracking down on “junk fees” across industries—including banking, hotel and airline pricing, and utility and phone services—for the past several years.

“Fees can make it hard to understand the true cost of an internet plan,” said Donenberg, adding that the agency is “committed to rooting out surprise junk fees that some companies pile on to your bills.”

On a call on April 9, a spokesperson for the FCC clarified that the labels “cannot be buried in multiple clicks” or hidden in a way that a consumer might miss.

If a provider does not display their labels or post inaccurate information about its fees or service plans, consumers can file a complaint with the FCC Consumer Complaint Center.

This article was provided by The Associated Press.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

  • How do you think the implementation of broadband labels, similar to nutritional labels on food products, will benefit consumers (ex. help consumers make smart decisions about their subscriptions, urge companies to be accountable about their pricing)? Discuss.
  • Why do you think transparency is important among service providers (ex. it ensures fairness in business, it builds trust among consumers)? Do you believe that your current service providers are transparent about their pricing? Why or why not? Discuss.

Discussion B

  • The broadband label is a tool to help consumers easily understand home and mobile services before they sign up. What factors do you consider before signing up for a service or product? Why are these factors important for you? Discuss.
  • Junk fees and unexpected rate hikes have dogged consumers across the U.S. Do you think this is also a problem in your country? Why do you say so? Discuss.