Sunday, September 24, 2023

Comcast and co. will soon have to put ‘nutrition labels’ on their internet

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Shreya Christina
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Six years after we saw the FCC formally propose “nutrition labels” for your carrier’s potentially confusing array of plans, the agency says it’s finally happening. This week, it is ordering US ISPs must use the label format you see below – or they will once the final bureaucratic elements are worked out.

Power label format for Broadband Facts 2022.

Power label format for Broadband Facts 2022.
Image: FCC

They’ve changed a bit since 2016 – now each plan apparently has its own label instead of ISPs trying to cram them all into one sheet, they don’t warn you about coverage and apparently ISPs can point you to their legal network management policies instead of having to pay themselves for throttling data or giving some apps a fast lane. They also don’t have to report a packet loss, it seems.

Fortunately, ISPs still have to report their data typical speeds and latency, not just repeating their advertised speed. Hopefully someone will check that.

The Broadband Facts suggested labels from 2016.

The Broadband Facts suggested labels from 2016.
Image: FCC

Most major ISPs have six months to put the new labels on their websites and distribute them in stores, though the FCC gives those with fewer than 100,000 subscribers a full year to comply. But none of those shot clocks kick in until the Office of Management and Budget reviews the order to make sure it complies with the Paperwork Reduction Act and similar statutes, the FCC notes, so it could take a bit longer.

Meanwhile, FCC Chair Jessica Rosenworcel suggests ISPs may want to get ahead of themselves and adopt them themselves.

The FCC also says it hopes these labels will evolve from here, so it is also seeking comment on some additional changes, including “expanded pricing information, bundled subscriptions, label accessibility, performance features, service reliability, cybersecurity, network management, and privacy issues. multiple languages, and whether the labels should be interactive or otherwise formatted differently so that the information they contain is clearer and more effectively conveyed.”

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