Representative Angie Craig Introduces Legislation to Ensure Transparency for Broadband Consumers
WASHINGTON, DC – Today, U.S. Representative Angie Craig introduced legislation to provide consumers with transparent information on broadband services available in the marketplace. The Broadband Consumer Transparency Act of 2021 would require sellers of broadband services to display information in a uniform and clear manner at the point of sale to allow consumers to easily compare plans and to understand what they are purchasing.
Roughly 7 in 10 U.S. adults surveyed by Consumer Reports who have used a cable, internet, or phone service provider in the past two years said they experienced unexpected or hidden fees. In 2016, the FCC and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau together rolled out an easily-readable label to help standardize the information meaningful to consumers as they compare plans. However, in 2017, President Trump’s newly installed FCC chairman, Ajit Pai, abandoned the proposal. This concept also passed the House in 2020 during consideration of a broader infrastructure package.
“As we work to ensure that every family in Minnesota has access to affordable, high-speed internet, we also must ensure that consumers have the information necessary to select the best services for their needs,” said Representative Angie Craig. “The Broadband Consumer Transparency Act would require straightforward disclosures in an easily understandable format to help consumers better understand the services they are purchasing and protect against hidden fees and sub-standard internet performance. With record investments in broadband connectivity, including the Emergency Broadband Benefit, it is more important now than ever that we have accurate data to understand the true cost of internet services.”
Consumer advocates have long hailed such a proposal and welcomed Rep. Craig’s introduction of the bill.
"Internet service providers are not transparent with consumers. Ask any customer of major telecom internet providers, and you are likely to hear complaints of hidden fees, surprise bills, and dense contracts,” said Joshua Stager, Deputy Director of New America’s Open Technology Institute. “Congresswoman Craig's bill cuts through this confusion by establishing truth-in-billing for broadband service. This bill is urgently needed as millions of people rely on the internet to work, learn, and live during the pandemic. Congress should pass this legislation as soon as possible. People need to know what they are paying for."
Specifically, the Broadband Consumer Transparency Act would require sellers of broadband services to provide the following information to all consumers:
- Price: Price points, including various charges like overage, equipment, early termination and administrative fees.
- Data Allowances: This is the carrier-defined plan limit after which consumers will face some consequence, such as additional charges or slowed data speeds.
- Performance: Broadband speed and other performance metrics.
As a member of House Whip Jim Clyburn’s House Rural Broadband Task Force and a member of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Communications and Technology, Representative Craig is focused on expanding access to broadband for rural and underserved communities. She recently introduced the Broadband MAPS Act to ensure that investments made by the federal government to expand broadband access are informed by data collection and analysis as required by federal law.