FCC Tells ISPs That They Better Be Transparent... Or Else It Will Taunt Them Again
from the toothless dept
So, in theory, it might be nice if the FCC stepped in and told the broadband providers that they were clearly violating the transparency requirements by letting its border routers clog without revealing what they're really doing. But is there any chance that the FCC will pick up on that? Hell no.
As Karl Bode over at DSL Reports notes, the FCC has a very long history of letting broadband access providers be incredibly opaque in screwing over subscribers.
Yet as I've noted numerous times over the last decade, ISPs consistently are allowed to bury all manner of nonsensical fees below the line, allowing them to covertly jack up consumer broadband bills while leaving the advertised price the same. This is technically false advertising, but I've never seen the FCC (or any other regulator) seriously address the practice.Bode goes even further highlighting more fees, something we've discussed in the past as well. From there, he concludes:
The practice not only fools consumers into paying more for service, it skews telecom policy debate and discussion. Most international and domestic price analysis comparisons use the advertised price. The United States already has some of the most expensive broadband in the world (OECD data); imagine how we rank were one to include fees?
These days of course there's numerous activation, installation, router and modem rental fees, fees for paying your bill in person, fees for paying your bill via credit card over the phone, etc. These fees, usually communicated "transparently" via mouseprint, are all used to jack up the already-high price of US broadband and television services, but at least some of them are tied to actual costs incurred by the ISP. There's numerous other fees charged that involve companies doing absolutely nothing, and exist solely to pad the advertised price post sale.
Is letting these kinds of fees continue for a decade the kind of tough enforcement the FCC and Tom Wheeler are talking about? Before anybody can take FCC threats of tough transparency enforcement seriously, they'll need to address the fact they've let ISPs engage in aggressive false advertising on price for almost as long as broadband and television have existed.For pretty much as long as I've followed the FCC, it's bark has been much worse than its bite. It rarely does anything that it should actually be doing to protect consumers. It frequently talks a good game, but action rarely happens. And that's been true through at least the last four bosses. So it seems rather unlikely that any of the broadband guys are actually worried about the FCC's latest "warning."