At its last Open Meeting on January 27, 2022, the FCC proposed to require Internet service providers (ISPs) to display “consumer broadband labels” containing important information about the provider’s services, such as prices, speeds, data allowances, and management practices.
At a minimum, the FCC would require providers to display labels on their websites depicting the broadband services that are offered. The FCC seeks comment on how providers should display the labels in other retail settings, such as in-person, on apps, or for purchases made over the phone. The FCC proposes that the labels look like standard food nutrition labels.
These proposed rules would require ISPs to create labels for each of their broadband service offerings, update their websites to include these labels, and implement procedures to ensure the labels are displayed in the manner required by the Commission. Providers also might be required to email labels to customers before completing purchases over the phone, or to notify customers when the contents of a label associated with their broadband service changes.
To promote its goal of ensuring customers have information necessary to make informed decisions in the broadband marketplace, the FCC also seeks comment on, among other things: how customers evaluate broadband service plans; whether the labels will help inform customers purchasing broadband; and what information should be included.
Some form of consumer label regulation is coming. Congress directed the FCC to implement broadband labels by November 15, 2022, and providers likely will have six months to comply with the new requirements after their adoption.
JSI will keep you informed on this important proposal and urges you to consider how your company will comply with these new requirements. JSI is available to assist in drafting comments in response to these proposed rules. The deadline for filing comments is March 9, 2022, and for reply comments, March 24, 2022. If you have questions, please contact Terri Parilla at 240-556-1307 or Amanda Farenthold at 301-459-7590.
On January 21, 2022, the FCC released a Report and Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking adopting its final regulations for the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), which helps ensure that households can afford broadband for school, work, healthcare, and other needs. Congress authorized $14.2 billion for the ACP under the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), which is expected to last several years.
The FCC’s new ACP regulations build on the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program (EBBP), which terminated on December 31, 2021, the same day the ACP began. Providers currently operate under the holdover EBBP regulations and FCC directives until the new ACP regulations become effective. Some ACP rules become effective 30 days after publication in the Federal Register and some become effective 60 days after publication in the Federal Register.
JSI encourages current ACP providers and those companies interested in becoming ACP providers to fully understand these regulations since key EBBP provisions have changed, such as how to solicit and enroll customers and how to comply with the new reporting and certification requirements.
The FCC is also seeking comment on additional items related to ACP, including an outreach grant program, a federal public housing pilot program, and a mechanism where subscribers in high-cost areas may receive an ACP benefit between $30 per month and $75 per month. Comments on these items are due 30 days after publication in the Federal Register.
Due to the important need for you to understand these new regulations, JSI is offering a webinar on the ACP on Thursday, February 10 at 2 p.m. Eastern. If you have questions about the ACP, please contact Lans Chase at 770-569-2105 or Liz Kayser at 512-338-0473.
On November 18, 2021, the FCC issued a Public Notice seeking comment on its implementation of the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP). The ACP is part of the enacted Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and expands and modifies the current Emergency Broadband Benefit Program (EBBP) with a $14.2 billion appropriation and changes to the household eligibility requirements. The Commission seeks comment on how to transition from the EBBP to the ACP and welcomes input on how the ACP will operate as a long-term program. Comments are due December 8, 2021. Reply comments are due December 28, 2021.
The biggest change from the EBBP to the ACP is the monthly support amount for households located on non-tribal lands. This monthly support will decline from $50 per month to $30 per month. (The monthly benefit for eligible Tribal households remains unchanged at $75.) The effective start date of the ACP is established in the Act and will be December 31, 2021. There will be a 60-day transition from the EBBP benefit to the lower ACP benefit.
One provision of the ACP allows an enhanced benefit above the standard non-tribal $30 per month benefit, up to $75 per month for households served by providers in “high-cost areas” and where the provider can show a “particular economic hardship.” How providers in high-cost areas benefit from this provision is one area where the Commission seeks industry input.
JSI will be tracking this docket closely and will provide further details as the rules for the transition to the new ACP are finalized. If you have questions about the ACP or would like JSI to assist with filing comments, please contact Lans Chase at 770-569-2105, Liz Kayser at 512-338-0473, or Douglas Meredith at 801-294-4576.