Is your broadband provider good for your wallet?
Recently The American Genius reported that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) had created handy labels to help customers seeking internet, cable, and mobile services gain more information about the services and costs of different broadband providers. The labels are modeled after the nutrition information printed on packages of food, and are designed to make it easy to compare the services of different providers, and to avoid paying hidden fees.
Richard Cordray of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, who helped create the labels said that they hoped to reduce the number of complaints to the FCC about hidden fees, because such fees will have “no place to hide.”
ISPs are resisting the change
The labels were designed to make it easy for ISPs to comply with the FCC’s new Open Internet Order, which requires companies to be more transparent about their fees and services. However, while the labels are a helpful suggestion, they aren’t required, and it seems that ISPs are not particularly eager to adopt them.
According to the experts at BroadbandSearch.net, ISPs are “resistant” to the nutrition-style labels “because they state that the level of competition in the industry already insures that they deliver more to customers than regulations would accomplish.”
Perhaps ISPs keep hidden fees hidden for a reason — so that they their plans can appear cheaper than they really are.
Either way, it does not appear that any companies have published nutrition-style labels so far.
The solution for the empowered consumer
Despite the fact that few ISPs seem to be voluntarily adopting the FCC’s recommended labels, you may still be able to use the label to get more information by visiting Broadband Search. The site, which was already in the business of helping people search for broadband services based on their zip code, has taken on the challenge of combing through the fine print of the service plans of several major providers and reformatting the information into a nutrition label.
They say they have “taken a proactive step to help consumers as they are shopping for high speed Internet service” because they “believe that anything that makes buying broadband Internet service easier is a good thing.”
On the site you can make direct comparisons between the service plans of two ISPs at a time.
BroadbandSearch.net has created nutrition labels for Xfinity, Verizon, Cox, Charter, Wow!, Time Warner Cable, RCN, SuddenLink, Cable One, Bright House, Mediacom, and Optimum.
The labels include information about monthly charges, data limits, deposits, taxes, upload and download speeds, and all fees, including fees for things like installation, early termination, and other so-called “hidden” costs.
Big thanks to Broadband Search for helping make broadband service more transparent!