ISPs Complain That Listing Every Fee Is Too Hard, Urge FCC To Scrap New Rule
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: The US broadband industry is united in opposition to a requirement that Internet service providers list all of their monthly fees. Five lobby groups representing cable companies, fiber and DSL providers, and mobile operators have repeatedly urged the Federal Communications Commission to eliminate the requirement before new broadband labeling rules take effect. The trade associations petitioned the FCC in January to change the rules and renewed their call last week in a filing and in a meeting with FCC officials. The requirement that ISPs list all their monthly fees “would add unnecessary complexity and burdens to the label for consumers and providers and could result in some providers having to create many labels for any given plan,” the groups said in the filing on Friday.
The trade groups said the FCC should instead “require providers to include an explanatory statement that such fees may apply and that they vary by jurisdiction, similar to the Commission’s treatment of government-imposed taxes,” or require “the display of the maximum level of government-imposed fees that might be passed through, so that consumers would not experience bill shock with respect to such fees.” The filing was submitted by NCTA-The Internet & Television Association, which represents Comcast, Charter, Cox, and other cable companies. The NCTA’s ex parte filing described a meeting with FCC officials that also included wireless industry trade group CTIA and USTelecom, which represents telcos including AT&T, Verizon, Lumen (formerly CenturyLink), Frontier, and Windstream.
Comcast submitted its own filing urging the FCC to scrap the rules in June. The calls to weaken the FCC’s truth-in-billing rules angered consumer advocates, as we wrote at the time. “The label hasn’t even reached consumers yet, but Comcast is already trying to create loopholes. This request would allow the big ISPs to continue hiding the true cost of service and frustrating customers with poor service,” Joshua Stager, policy director at media advocacy group Free Press, told Ars. Congress required the FCC to implement broadband labels with exact prices for Internet service plans in a 2021 law, but gave the FCC some leeway in how to structure the rules. The FCC adopted specific label rules in November 2022. The labels must be displayed to consumers at the point of sale and include monthly price, additional charges, speeds, data caps, additional charges for data, and other information. The FCC rules aren’t in force yet because they are subject to a federal Office of Management and Budget (OMB) review under the US Paperwork Reduction Act.