Determine Performance Disclosure Requirements for Broadband
On December 21, 2010, the FCC adopted the following rule in the "net neutrality" Report and Order:
A person engaged in the provision of broadband Internet access service shall publicly disclose accurate information regarding the network management practices, performance, and commercial terms of its broadband Internet access services sufficient for consumers to make informed choices regarding use of such services and for content, application, service, and device providers to develop, market, and maintain Internet offerings.
The FCC expects that effective disclosures will likely include some or all of the following types of information, timely and prominently disclosed in plain language accessible to current and prospective end users and edge providers, the Commission, and third parties who wish to monitor network management practices for potential violations of open Internet principles:
- Congestion Management: If applicable, descriptions of congestion management practices; types of traffic subject to practices; purposes served by practices; practices’ effects on end users’ experience; criteria used in practices, such as indicators of congestion that trigger a practice, and the typical frequency of congestion; usage limits and the consequences of exceeding them; and references to engineering standards, where appropriate.
- Application-Specific Behavior: If applicable, whether and why the provider blocks or rate-controls specific protocols or protocol ports, modifies protocol fields in ways not prescribed by the protocol standard, or otherwise inhibits or favors certain applications or classes of applications.
- Device Attachment Rules: If applicable, any restrictions on the types of devices and any approval procedures for devices to connect to the network. (For further discussion of required disclosures regarding device and application approval procedures for mobile broadband providers, see paragraph 98, infra.)
- Security: If applicable, practices used to ensure end-user security or security of the network, including types of triggering conditions that cause a mechanism to be invoked (but excluding information that could reasonably be used to circumvent network security).
- Service Description: A general description of the service, including the service technology, expected and actual access speed and latency, and the suitability of the service for real-time applications.
- Impact of Specialized Services: If applicable, what specialized services, if any, are offered to end users, and whether and how any specialized services may affect the last-mile capacity available for, and the performance of, broadband Internet access service.
- Pricing: For example, monthly prices, usage-based fees, and fees for early termination or additional network services.
- Privacy Policies: For example, whether network management practices entail inspection of network traffic, and whether traffic information is stored, provided to third parties, or used by the carrier for non-network management purposes.
- Redress Options: Practices for resolving end-user and edge provider complaints and questions.
Broadband providers should examine their network management practices and current disclosures to determine what additional information, if any, should be disclosed to comply with the rule. Broadband providers must, at a minimum, prominently display or provide links to disclosures on a publicly available, easily accessible website that is available to current and prospective end users and edge providers as well as to the FCC, and must disclose relevant information at the point of sale. Current end users must be able to easily identify which disclosures apply to their service offering. Broadband providers’ online disclosures shall be considered disclosed to the FCC for purposes of monitoring and enforcement. The FCC may require additional disclosures directly to the FCC.
FCC Chapter: 4.5
Status: In progress
The Federal Communications Commission should initiate a rulemaking proceeding by issuing a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) to determine performance disclosure requirements for broadband.
The FCC should issue an NPRM to determine appropriate disclosure obligations for broadband service providers, including disclosure obligations related to service performance.
These obligations should include simple and clear data that a "reasonable consumer" can understand, while providing more detailed disclosure for more interested parties such as tech-savvy consumers, software developers and entrepreneurs designing products for the network.
The FCC should look for better ways to improve information availability for consumer decisionmaking.
The FCC should develop a "broadband digital label" that will summarize broadband service performance concisely.
The FCC should also consider a broadband service performance disclosure item with the required speeds for different applications.
The FCC should establish appropriate disclosure standards for contractual commitments as part of a rulemaking.
The FCC should conduct consumer research, potentially in collaboration with the Federal trade Comission, to identify the disclosure obligations that would be most useful for consumers as critical input to a rulemaking proceeding.