As far back as the 2010 National Broadband Plan, there have been recommendations for a broadband label for consumers much like nutrition labels we see at the grocery stores. In January, the FCC asked for comments on broadband labels; Carnegie Mellon University came up with that and more. They have a report that looks into labels in depth starting with surveys and recommendations from 2016 and updated recommendations and a draft label based on recent responses to the 2016 model.
Here are their recommendations…
- Broadband labels should include a range of information valued by consumers but should highlight the information they value most, including information on cost, speed, and reliability.
- Broadband labels should balance the needs of consumers who value simplicity and conciseness with those who value detailed information. This can be achieved with a standardized label design with links to definitions of terms maintained by the FCC in a format conducive to comparing multiple plans. A layered label design with a summary and full version may help address the needs of a wider range of consumers.
- Broadband service providers should be required to deposit detailed plan information in a standardized computer-readable form in a publicly accessible database to enable third-parties to generate customized labels for consumers and offer comparison shopping tools, quality of experience or suitability ratings, and other value-added services.
- Non-optional costs should be bundled into a total cost where possible, including taxes, to make it easy for consumers to determine how much they will need to pay.
- Performance metrics should be included for downstream speed, upstream speed, latency, and packet loss in both normal and poor performance times.
- Broadband labels should include some measure of reliability, addressing consumer interest in information about outages and downtime.
- All data rate units be kept consistent (e.g. all broadband providers would express throughputs in Mbps and latencies in ms).
- Network management practices should be enumerated on the label in standard groups and accompanied by a standardized glossary with definitions and examples that explain these terms for consumers.
- Labels and accompanying data should be localized so that consumers can readily compare plan details–including total costs, performance at both normal and busy times, reliability, and network management practices– for a particular geographic location.
And model labels…