Broadband providers may soon have to display service 'nutrition labels' under proposed...

Cal Jeffrey

Posts: 3,444   +1,024
Staff member
In context: First, Apple began requiring apps in the App Store to display privacy "nutrition labels" in their descriptions. Now the FCC is considering rules to require broadband internet providers to post "nutrition labels" about their services instead of hiding them in the fine print of their contracts.

On Thursday, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced it would be taking a page out of the Food and Drug Administration's rulebook and applying it to internet service providers (ISP). A proposed set of rules approved by all four commissioners would require ISPs to provide consumers with more transparency about their services with labeling modeled after food nutrition labels.

"In a grocery store, nutrition labels make it easy to compare calories & carbohydrates," said FCC Chair Jessica Rosenworcel this morning via Twitter. "We need the same simple labels for broadband—so we can compare price, speed & data. No more fees in fine print."

Rosenworcel points out the tendency of broadband providers to stick consumers with hidden fees and service limitations like modem rental, upload speeds, and data caps. When signing up for service, consumers are often left on their own to find these things. Many customers have complained of receiving bills with undisclosed fees reaching 50-percent of the advertised subscription rate or more.

Under the proposed rules, providers will have to clearly display both the contracted promotional rate and the regular price of each service plan. They will also have to disclose any data caps and their overage charges. Other costs such as modem rental, government taxes, and additional fees also have to be shown.

The FCC hopes to do away with the vague and deceptive language used to describe speeds by making the labels contain "typical" download and upload speeds. Currently, most providers promote their plans using the maximum speeds obtainable and inserting "up to" into the advertising verbiage—"With blazing speeds of up to 400 Mbps…" Typical speeds, along with latency and packet loss information, give a more accurate representation of what the customer can expect.

It's unclear if the rules will ultimately change anything regarding the service provided or the costs to the consumer. Since broadband providers essentially run an oligopoly, these new rules simply mean they will have to shaft the customer openly rather than hiding it.

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QuantumPhysics

Posts: 6,237   +7,155
Despite labeling foods with larger Calories details...telling us about trans fat content...specifically advising us about salt/ sodium and carbs...

The reality is: most people:

a) don't know what any of this stuff means (how many people know what a "calorie" actually is)
or...
b) don't care (they'll eat it anyway)

Question: if my ISP (FIOS) says my speeds are 200/200 Mbps for $69 a month...400/400 Mbps for $99 a month and Up to 940/880 Mbps for $250 a month. Can someone please get me the average person who can seriously tell me the difference between a Mb and a MB or/and "use case" for each individual speed?

The only thing people shop by at the end of the day is the price.

Or...they strike up a price-to-quality bargain/sacrifice.


 

psycros

Posts: 4,072   +5,591
Despite labeling foods with larger Calories details...telling us about trans fat content...specifically advising us about salt/ sodium and carbs...

The reality is: most people:

a) don't know what any of this stuff means (how many people know what a "calorie" actually is)
or...
b) don't care (they'll eat it anyway)

Question: if my ISP (FIOS) says my speeds are 200/200 Mbps for $69 a month...400/400 Mbps for $99 a month and Up to 940/880 Mbps for $250 a month. Can someone please get me the average person who can seriously tell me the difference between a Mb and a MB or/and "use case" for each individual speed?

The only thing people shop by at the end of the day is the price.

Or...they strike up a price-to-quality bargain/sacrifice.

Painful but essentially true. Hey, here's a thought: why don't we require every business to adopt these practices? Everything in plain language, everything up-front. How about that? Most people will be able to comprehend non-techie contracts and agreements.
 

TekCheck

Posts: 43   +79
Despite labeling foods with larger Calories details...telling us about trans fat content...specifically advising us about salt/ sodium and carbs...
The reality is: most people:
a) don't know what any of this stuff means (how many people know what a "calorie" actually is)
or...
b) don't care (they'll eat it anyway)
Question: if my ISP (FIOS) says my speeds are 200/200 Mbps for $69 a month...400/400 Mbps for $99 a month and Up to 940/880 Mbps for $250 a month. Can someone please get me the average person who can seriously tell me the difference between a Mb and a MB or/and "use case" for each individual speed?
The only thing people shop by at the end of the day is the price.
Or...they strike up a price-to-quality bargain/sacrifice.
I'd respectfully disagree with this. When we say "most", we actually do not say anything specific and that is the weakness of arguments on general level. Is there any evidence for this? Giving more information about services, nutrition, etc. is useful if we also put effort to educate people about that information.

There is nothing wrong with adding more information, as soon as children in schools and general public are explained what is its purpose in simple terms. I think this is good movie and it will trigger more similar moves. There is a growing awareness about the speed and reliability of internet services and although not everyone would be interested to know or care, it is important that this information is available for those who do care and want to know.
 

dragosmp

Posts: 62   +63
By the same token I would like cars to be banned from posting numbers like 500HP (at 7000RPM - who the hell drives at 7000RPM?). They should post they barely do 150 at 2000RPM, the way people actually do use their cars, those who have seen torque curves know what I mean. Then you push one step further and understand how a 200HP electric car (all accessible) can out-accelerate a 500HP ICE car.
As a car guy it upsets me about as much to see nonsense numbers thrown around on cars, just as broadband numbers for internet access, or calorie numbers based on burning of said substances (who burns the food to get energy???)
 

eforce

Posts: 877   +1,241
You could solve obesity within a generation if they taught kids at school how to calorie count, it's a necessity once society achieves an abundance of food/drink, particularly sugary ones.
 

Squid Surprise

Posts: 5,283   +4,928
By the same token I would like cars to be banned from posting numbers like 500HP (at 7000RPM - who the hell drives at 7000RPM?). They should post they barely do 150 at 2000RPM, the way people actually do use their cars, those who have seen torque curves know what I mean. Then you push one step further and understand how a 200HP electric car (all accessible) can out-accelerate a 500HP ICE car.
As a car guy it upsets me about as much to see nonsense numbers thrown around on cars, just as broadband numbers for internet access, or calorie numbers based on burning of said substances (who burns the food to get energy???)
Advertisers LOVE selling cars though... because they know that 99% of drivers have no idea how they work... they also love the non-sensical tag-lines that simply sound good...

"Built Ford tough" --> What does that mean?!?!?
"Built for drivers" --> really? I thought it was built for pedestrians...
 

Toju Mikie

Posts: 278   +265
I think the only major cable or fiber ISP that has easily accessible upload speeds (out of AT&T, Comcast, Charter, Cox) is AT&T. There is a link right on their front page that can be accessed, that all their download and upload plans can be seen from.
https://www.att.com/support/article/u-verse-high-speed-internet/KM1010095
I definitely agree that this information needs to be more accessible for all ISPs. I look at upload speeds when I am shopping for a plan because I upload lots of files, so this information is important to me.
 

Scrye74

Posts: 63   +109
I had to actually move to get better speeds thank to the local monopoly. I was lucky if I got 3Mb down (was paying for 100Mb). Whenever I would call to complain, they would say that they advertise UP TO 100Mb. If they sold a car that should go UP TO 100MPH but could only ever go 3MPH...
 

someOtherGuy

Posts: 16   +9
I think the only major cable or fiber ISP that has easily accessible upload speeds (out of AT&T, Comcast, Charter, Cox) is AT&T. There is a link right on their front page that can be accessed, that all their download and upload plans can be seen from.
https://www.att.com/support/article/u-verse-high-speed-internet/KM1010095
I definitely agree that this information needs to be more accessible for all ISPs. I look at upload speeds when I am shopping for a plan because I upload lots of files, so this information is important to me.

There's a technical difference there: AT&T does UTP, which usually means dedicated medium (and bandwidth) for each client, basically there's a pair of cables that go from your house to the central. The coaxial network (Comcast/Charter/Cox) is a shared medium network meaning that everybody taps on the same, single cable, that's why "typical" speeds are more important than "theoretical max speeds", although, to be fair, that's far from trivial since it's a function of your area (it depends on how many people are sharing your section of the network and how they use it).

Not sure about fiber, though. They might use WDM with passive splitters in which case you could have dedicated bandwidth to the central on a shared backbone (kind of the coax scenario but assigning "channels" to each client) or basically running dedicated fiber pairs to each client (like the UTP scenario).
 

brucek

Posts: 1,100   +1,618
I'm not sure "nutrition label" feels like a good analogy to me, but there is enough history of ISPs misleading their customers that some sensible rules would help.

Read the NY Attorney General suit against Spectrum on behalf of New York residents for a good example of how an ISP's outbound marketing can have little in common with their internal management of their network. Although it's a legal document it does a great job explaining in clear language how this ISP knew that in many cases the cable modem supplied, or the overloading at the street/neighborhood level, or the intentionally engineered lack of bandwidth at its interconnects, could not support the marketing claims it was making about say Netflix experience.
 

TekCheck

Posts: 43   +79
They should also publish regular reports on interchange bandwidth and loads, so that we know whether network is allowed to be overloaded.
 

wiyosaya

Posts: 7,470   +6,250
Despite labeling foods with larger Calories details...telling us about trans fat content...specifically advising us about salt/ sodium and carbs...

The reality is: most people:

a) don't know what any of this stuff means (how many people know what a "calorie" actually is)
or...
b) don't care (they'll eat it anyway)

Question: if my ISP (FIOS) says my speeds are 200/200 Mbps for $69 a month...400/400 Mbps for $99 a month and Up to 940/880 Mbps for $250 a month. Can someone please get me the average person who can seriously tell me the difference between a Mb and a MB or/and "use case" for each individual speed?

The only thing people shop by at the end of the day is the price.

Or...they strike up a price-to-quality bargain/sacrifice.
Personally, I think the comparison is a false equivalence.

Let's take speeds out of the matter. If someone calls an ISP and the ISP tells them that they are giving them X internet service for Y dollars, then that someone gets their bill and the amount is now Z dollars, IMO, the subscriber has a right to be angry that the prices is not what they were told. As I see it, speed, in the context of negotiation, has little meaning. The concept is that an agreed upon price is inflated by hidden charges/fees/whatever. IMO, that is not sound business practice and is highly deceptive.

To me, it sounds like the FCC wants to require that ISPs tell you the price up-front and the amount anyone is charged on their monthly bill needs to be the same up-front price.

I think these are the relevant paragraphs in the article:

Rosenworcel points out the tendency of broadband providers to stick consumers with hidden fees and service limitations like modem rental, upload speeds, and data caps. When signing up for service, consumers are often left on their own to find these things. Many customers have complained of receiving bills with undisclosed fees reaching 50-percent of the advertised subscription rate or more.

Under the proposed rules, providers will have to clearly display both the contracted promotional rate and the regular price of each service plan. They will also have to disclose any data caps and their overage charges. Other costs such as modem rental, government taxes, and additional fees also have to be shown.

The amount I am charged on my bill for my ISP is exactly the advertised rate. I would not be at all happy if it were inflated by 50-percent.

I think a more apt comparison would be if you are going to buy a new car, you are told that it is going to cost you X dollars. Yet, the day you show up with your certified check to pay X dollars for the car, the dealer then tells you that the price is not X dollars, the price is Y dollars and the Y figure is inflated 50-percent beyond the X figure. I am willing to bet that even you would not like that.
 

TekCheck

Posts: 43   +79
Rules should be simple:
1. price I am charged throughout the contract time during 12/18/24 months
2. any promotional discount must not be hidden in small print
3. download speed
4. upload speed
5. data cap and any fees beyond cap
6. router specification
7. minimum guaranteed upload and download speed

I havde those from my ISP. Any other?
 

kiwigraeme

Posts: 977   +712
Waistlines and obesity rates?
We could change that to wait times ( internet) , Obesity (food)

I've done the hard work for you - done my own research down rabbit holes for a few minutes - so know more the most PhD nutritionists .

Why have people got fatter - is it lack of exercise - no - you exercise more you eat more.
Given that - exercise is great - as when you lose those early Kgs/lbs you also lose muscle as well .
The last Lbs/Kgs are extremely hard to remove - as body now needs so much less Joules/Calories. So exercise allows you still to eat more , tones your body and gives you years to your life and improved immunity response in at least 1 of your main immune systems .

The big reason is junk/process food - that trigger eat more , full of empty calories , promise protein where there is none ( umami does this ) , trans fat is just bad - unless starving from hunger .

Humans are pretty good at regulating their weight - in the middle years - maybe you just gain 1 or 2 lbs a year un-noticed at first it adds up . The mis-cues junk, that processed foods gives is deliberately by manufacturers to make you buy more .

So cut back processed food , exercise a bit , get enough protein to stop hunger .

Remember you body is very good at making you forget heathier snacks .

When you grab that humus in the evening you nearly always forget about carrot, celery sticks , instead grabbing crackers or chips . Write on top of humus container - carrots , put a sign up with heathy snacks - eg popcorn ( not sugared, salty or artificial stuff ) instead of chips - even if only a step down - Indian snacks ( you can get heathy ones ) to Japanese rice snacks .

For those who swear by keto - certain fruit like berries ( raspberry, blueberries , strawberries ) - won't harm your diet and their bang for buck is massive - at the other scale for those doing massive work - a banana is great ( I lay off them as too lazy )
 

TheRealSCDC

Posts: 69   +115
All I do is read labels. I know what ALL of those things are in food. Don't just look at the list, I read the actual ingredients. Most people don't know they are supposed to be listed in the order of the most used, to the least.
 
Seems like a good idea to me. I don't know why they make it so hard to find upload speeds which is usually what I'm shopping for - 20Mbps min upload. So I buy a 400mbps download plan just to get the 20mbps upload. Most of the time there's not much difference between 200mbps and 400, especially when they have the same monthly data caps.
 

Cal Jeffrey

Posts: 3,444   +1,024
Staff member
I think these are the relevant paragraphs in the article:



The amount I am charged on my bill for my ISP is exactly the advertised rate. I would not be at all happy if it were inflated by 50-percent.

I think a more apt comparison would be if you are going to buy a new car, you are told that it is going to cost you X dollars. Yet, the day you show up with your certified check to pay X dollars for the car, the dealer then tells you that the price is not X dollars, the price is Y dollars and the Y figure is inflated 50-percent beyond the X figure. I am willing to bet that even you would not like that.

I learned to ask about hidden fees and taxes after I set up service with Grande Cable. I was moving to a new home and my current provider (Comcast) did not service the area I was moving too. I talk to Grande and was told I would be paying about $90 per month for the exact same service plan I was getting from Comcast for $130. Great, that's perfect, set me up.

I get my first bill and it was $160. I thought, "Wow!" That's way off." But I assume there was an installation charge in there somewhere and I was busy settling in so didn't really pay attention to it until I got a second bill for $160. So I looked at the invoice and my regular charges amounted to $90 alright, then there were $70 in taxes and fees tacked on. That was extremely high as my hidden charges from Comcast only amounted to about $27. I was in shock.

I called CS and said that the hidden fees were ridiculously high and was told a) "Those aren't hidden fees" (apparently they don't consider undisclosed taxes, surcharges, and modem and cable box rental fees hidden fees), and b) there was nothing they could do to reduce those charges. After dickering for an hour about misrepresentation they got my bill bundled into a $125 package by adding a dang phone line which I didn't need or want and never used. Also, the 300Mbps I was supposed to be getting I never got. I was luck to get 150 and averaged around 8Mbps (was also told they could do nothing about it and that they can't guarantee 300Mbps; hence the "up to 300 Mbps" language. God the worst service ever. Avoid Grande like the plague.

If it's the only provider in the area you are moving to, I highly suggest looking at nearby locations with better options. So far the best and most reliable provider I've had has been Spectrum. I had Charter years ago and was not impressed with them either. Right now I'm on a 300Mbps plan and consistently get over 400Mbps. So at least for now, it's been the best service I've ever had.

EDIT: Oh in that long diatribe I lost my whole point. When I signed up for Spectrum service I asked the agent specifically what my total bill would be including taxes and fees and he told me straight up, so my bill was exactly what I expected when I got it.
 

wiyosaya

Posts: 7,470   +6,250
I learned to ask about hidden fees and taxes after I set up service with Grande Cable. I was moving to a new home and my current provider (Comcast) did not service the area I was moving too. I talk to Grande and was told I would be paying about $90 per month for the exact same service plan I was getting from Comcast for $130. Great, that's perfect, set me up.
Interesting.
If it's the only provider in the area you are moving to, I highly suggest looking at nearby locations with better options. So far the best and most reliable provider I've had has been Spectrum. I had Charter years ago and was not impressed with them either. Right now I'm on a 300Mbps plan and consistently get over 400Mbps. So at least for now, it's been the best service I've ever had.

EDIT: Oh in that long diatribe I lost my whole point. When I signed up for Spectrum service I asked the agent specifically what my total bill would be including taxes and fees and he told me straight up, so my bill was exactly what I expected when I got it.
Personally, if anyone asked me if Spectrum was a good ISP, I'd say no. Maybe that's not fair since my utter dissatisfaction with them was in the Time Warner days. My complaints are numerous with the biggest being they slammed my elderly mother onto their phone service. When I called and complained about it, and also told them that they cut the wires to the previous phone provider, the rep told me "We don't make mistakes". Literally every response to my complaints about them slamming my mother on to their phone service made me even angrier. At one point, the rep told me "Everything that I am telling you is supposed to make you less angry, but it is making you more angry." :rolleyes: Someone like them telling me "We don't make mistakes" SMH

In our area, they are facing stiff competition from a local FTTH provider. I played hardball with them and dropped them for a while in favor of a MVNO data only through T-mobile, which, at the time was 30 Mbps instead of 20 Mbps through Spectrum. After about 9-months or so, I went back to Spectrum because their offer was for 100 Mbps at about $65/mo. In the mean time, my neighbor had 10 Mbps service from Spectrum and they would not increase his data rate. Now, however, with the FTTH provider breathing down their throats, Spectrum has increased everyone in our area to 200 Mbps at no extra charge.

When the FTTH provider got to my neighborhood, I cancelled my service with Spectrum and got 500Mbps symmetric for $50/mo - without any contracts or hidden fees. I called up Spectrum and, of course, they put me on the line with a "Retention Specialist" who tried to tell me "You have to watch out for services like that. They have contracts!" IMO, the BS Spectrum spouts just never stops. Then, two days later I got a letter in the mail from Spectrum saying something like "Congratulations. We just doubled your internet speed at the same cost." All I could think was "I just got five times your speed for less" 🤣

Ah well, I'm lucky to have FTTH, but it shows just what serious competition can do for an area. Spectrum had abosolutely no competition before the FTTH provider came along.
 

Cal Jeffrey

Posts: 3,444   +1,024
Staff member
Interesting.

Personally, if anyone asked me if Spectrum was a good ISP, I'd say no. Maybe that's not fair since my utter dissatisfaction with them was in the Time Warner days. My complaints are numerous with the biggest being they slammed my elderly mother onto their phone service. When I called and complained about it, and also told them that they cut the wires to the previous phone provider, the rep told me "We don't make mistakes". Literally every response to my complaints about them slamming my mother on to their phone service made me even angrier. At one point, the rep told me "Everything that I am telling you is supposed to make you less angry, but it is making you more angry." :rolleyes: Someone like them telling me "We don't make mistakes" SMH

In our area, they are facing stiff competition from a local FTTH provider. I played hardball with them and dropped them for a while in favor of a MVNO data only through T-mobile, which, at the time was 30 Mbps instead of 20 Mbps through Spectrum. After about 9-months or so, I went back to Spectrum because their offer was for 100 Mbps at about $65/mo. In the mean time, my neighbor had 10 Mbps service from Spectrum and they would not increase his data rate. Now, however, with the FTTH provider breathing down their throats, Spectrum has increased everyone in our area to 200 Mbps at no extra charge.

When the FTTH provider got to my neighborhood, I cancelled my service with Spectrum and got 500Mbps symmetric for $50/mo - without any contracts or hidden fees. I called up Spectrum and, of course, they put me on the line with a "Retention Specialist" who tried to tell me "You have to watch out for services like that. They have contracts!" IMO, the BS Spectrum spouts just never stops. Then, two days later I got a letter in the mail from Spectrum saying something like "Congratulations. We just doubled your internet speed at the same cost." All I could think was "I just got five times your speed for less" 🤣

Ah well, I'm lucky to have FTTH, but it shows just what serious competition can do for an area. Spectrum had abosolutely no competition before the FTTH provider came along.
I can't speak for how Spectrum used to be as I have only just had it since Feb 2021. I do know it was bought by Charter years ago and I did have Charter (before the merger) and it was total crap. Prices were ridiculous for what you got and the customer service might as well have been non-existent.

So far with Spectrum, I have not been displeased. Price is competitive. No contracts. Speeds are higher than advertised--not just sometimes--all the time. And the few times I've had issues I was able to quickly resolve them with the Spectrum app, which is actually a pretty handy network tool with more functionality than you would think like IP blocking and other stuff. Plus the few times I have had to deal with CS directly they have been nice and have shown a much higher level of competence than I am used to. Usually, you get people using a troubleshooter and if the problem lies outside of that then forget it. You're gonna have to wait for a field tech to come out.
 

Athlonite

Posts: 305   +106
Can someone please get me the average person who can seriously tell me the difference between a Mb and a MB or/and "use case" for each individual speed?

OK so 1Mb (Megabit) = 0.13MB (MegaByte) 100Mb = 13.10MB but after tcpIP overheads it's more like 11~12MB per second

So as for the use case scenarios the more people in the house using the internet at the same time will require a faster connection to the internet ie: say five people in a house 1 is gaming 2 are streaming netflix at 4K and 1 is having a video conference and 1 is uploading a TIKTOK video your going to need a certain amount of bandwidth each to be able to do all that without constant hickups or buffering any setup of around that many people would benefit having around 65~95Mbps each
a good rule of thumb is 100Mbps per person