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Bruce Kushnick: FCC’s Broadband ‘Nutrition Labels’: You Will Eat More Fat, Sugar and Salt

Broadband Breakfast Staff



When I look at a nutritional label on a can of soup to determine whether it has too much salt, or the label on a cereal box to parse how much sugar is added—I know that the aisles of the grocery store are filled with lots of items to pick from. And because there are lots of companies competing, prices remain more or less stable and I get to pick how much salt, fat, or sugar I intake, not to mention the total calories I will ingest.

In April, 2016, the FCC announced its “Consumer Labels for Broadband Services”. Here is the sample label for wired broadband. Compare it to the actual Time Warner Triple Play bill above and you’ll see there are a host of problems.

While the FCC has attempted to clean up the broadband bills, and this is being touted as similar to a nutritional label for food—at the end of the day it supplies nothing to fix the mess of the current billing, the deceptive practices, the addition of made up fees and additional expenses, and so it is really just a reminder—there is no competition in America today.

Even if some of the new label items are useful, if you find that the equivalent of additional fat, salt and sugar are over the top and harmful; too bad, you can’t simply ‘leave’ and find some other less offensive brand.

Moreover, as we will discuss, most customers buy broadband as part of a double or triple play package, combined with cable TV and/or phone service; this label, then, can’t be used for, say, the opening TWC bill.

Truth be told, our communications bills are now a dumping ground for added, made up fees and questionable charges. These are done as additions so that the companies (and regulators) can quote the ‘lower price’ and leave out the additional 10%-40% of the charges—many of them just additional, unmarked revenue.

Unfortunately, the task to clean up the bills was given to the FCC’s captured, Consumer Advisory Committee (CAC) — Did you know that Verizon is one of the longest standing members on the CAC and has been on the Committee for over 15 years? And while there are many outstanding consumer groups and advocates on the Committee, anyone who cares about Truth-in-Billing and Truth-in-Advertising fixes wouldn’t pick this Committee to do anything. As I’ll discuss, they’ve been blocking the fixing of telecom bills since we were on the Committee back in 2003-2004. Moreover, it is no surprise that Verizon is joined by T-Mobile, CenturyLink and the cable association, (NCTA), and there are multiple ‘consumer’ groups and others with direct financial ties to the ISP broadband providers—Verizon, AT&T and the cable companies.

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The always-controversial Bruce Kushnick makes some excellent points here about tapping into and explicating broadband billing.

See on Scoop.itBroadbandPolicy

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