FCC Publishes Broadband Label Petitions for Recon. in Fed. Reg.

On January 31, 2023, the FCC published in the Federal Register three Petitions for Reconsideration of the FCC’s Broadband Consumer Labels Report and Order, thereby setting the opposition and reply dates.

Oppositions are due on or before February 15, 2023. 

Replies are due on or before February 27, 2023. 

First, CTIA filed a Petition for Clarification, or in the alternative, Reconsideration, asking the FCC to clarify and confirm that wireless providers have flexibility to create labels that accurately describe their offerings, particularly on those points that reflect competitive differentiation among providers.  Specifically, CTIA asks the FCC to confirm that providers are allowed to display taxes-included pricing without separating the taxes and plan costs on the label and describe their data allowance options with sufficient detail to identify plan variations and differing allocations for handsets and hotspots.  CTIA argues these modifications are essential to ensure robust competition and consumer protection.

Second, ACA Connects, CTIA, NCTA, NTCA, and USTelecom (“Joint Petitioners”) filed a Joint Petition for Clarification or, in the alternative, Reconsideration asking the FCC to clarify or reconsider two provisions of the Broadband Consumer Labels Report and Order.   First, the Joint Petitioners ask the FCC to clarify or reconsider the requirement that providers display all recurring monthly fees mandated by state and local governments.  The Joint Petitioners request that providers either be permitted to include a statement, similar to tax disclosures, that the fees may change as a result of state or local government actions, or that they be deemed in compliance if providers identify generally the maximum dollar figure that will be passed through each month.  Second, the Joint Petitioners ask the FCC to clarify that the requirement to create and retain documentation for each instance when a provider directs a consumer to the label at an alternative sales channel is satisfied if the providers establish business practices and process to distribute the label, retain these materials for two years, and provide the materials to the FCC upon request.  The Joint Petitioners allege the modifications sufficiently cover the intent of the statue and protect consumers while lowering the administrative and financial burden on providers.

Third, four fiber providers (Cincinnati Bell d/b/a Altafiber Network Solutions, Crown Castle, Metro Fibernet, and Unit Fiber, collectively the “Fiber Providers”) filed a Joint Petition for Clarification or Reconsideration, asking the FCC to clarify aspects of the broadband labels for enterprise and special access broadband services provided through E-Rate and Rural Health Care (“RHC”) Universal Service Fund Programs.   While the FCC expressly excluded enterprise and special access services from the broadband label requirement, the Fiber Providers note that there is inconsistency in the FCC’s Order with regard to how it should be applied to E-Rate and RHC programs.  Footnote 36 appears to mandate the label be applied to all E-rate and RHC provided broadband services (including enterprise and special access services), while footnote 215 appears to allow an exception for customized services provided through these programs.  The Fiber Providers request that the FCC clarify that all enterprise and access services, particularly those hand crafted for E-Rate and RHC program participants, are exempt from the broadband label requirement.  They note that failing to make this adjustment will result in differing requirements for similar services, will be burdensome for providers who offer services through these critical programs, and will not harm consumers or competition.

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