🖤 Donations of all sizes power our public service journalism Give Now

Broadband “nutrition labels” help you comparison shop for cable

Meghan McCarty Carino Apr 11, 2024
Heard on:
HTML EMBED:
COPY
An example of what a "broadband nutrition label" would look like. Courtesy Federal Communications Commission

Broadband “nutrition labels” help you comparison shop for cable

Meghan McCarty Carino Apr 11, 2024
Heard on:
An example of what a "broadband nutrition label" would look like. Courtesy Federal Communications Commission
HTML EMBED:
COPY

Large internet service providers now have to post a so-called “broadband nutrition label” online and in stores to give consumers a snapshot of all the charges and performance data for their plans. The new requirement from the Federal Communications Commission went into effect on Wednesday and could make it easier to comparison shop for broadband service.

Internet providers and cable companies often tend to have a lot of fine print — promotional prices that evaporate, maximum speeds that aren’t always available or an assortment of obscurely named fees.

“They’re all like one or two bucks each, but when there’s eight of them, that kind of adds up,” said Justin Brookman, who directs technology policy at Consumer Reports, which has studied cable bills. 

“We found that people were often very confused about what they’re paying for and getting,” he said. “And they’re often surprised by how much they’re being charged.”

The new broadband nutrition labels look a lot like food ones, but track fiber speed or added fees. Lorrie Cranor, a professor who studies consumer label design at Carnegie Mellon, said that consumers don’t always know how to interpret these figures.

“Don’t just give me numbers, tell me how good is this? If I want to play video games,” she said, “if I want to stream movies.”

The labels also only have to be displayed at the “point of sale,” so once you’re a customer they could take a few extra clicks to find.

There’s a lot happening in the world.  Through it all, Marketplace is here for you. 

You rely on Marketplace to break down the world’s events and tell you how it affects you in a fact-based, approachable way. We rely on your financial support to keep making that possible. 

Your donation today powers the independent journalism that you rely on. For just $5/month, you can help sustain Marketplace so we can keep reporting on the things that matter to you.