Shop Talk: FCC’s New Consumer Broadband Labels Regulation

How Telecom Must Channel Its Inner Retailer in the New Age of Transparency

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Monali Supramanyam, Global Director, Product Marketing, Monetization Suite

07 Jun 2024

Shop Talk: FCC’s New Consumer Broadband Labels Regulation

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The FCC's latest directive mandates that all Communication Service Providers (CSPs) must implement standardized "consumer broadband labels", clearly outlining the costs, speeds, and policies associated with their services. To stay ahead, CSPs must become as dynamic and innovative as retailers who excel in marketing their commoditized products distinctively and compete beyond a price battle.

In the wake of the FCC's recent mandate for consumer broadband labels, Communication Service Providers (CSPs) face a transformative challenge. This regulation, which requires CSPs to provide clear, standardized information, mirrors the nutritional labels seen in food retail. The objective is clear: increase transparency to help consumers make better-informed decisions. And the message is even more unmistakable: telecom services are increasingly being viewed as commodities by both regulators and the general market.
The FCC's latest directive mandates that all Communication Service Providers (CSPs) must implement standardized "consumer broadband labels", clearly outlining the costs, speeds, and policies associated with their services. This new requirement, modeled after nutritional labels on food products, aims to demystify the often complex information about Internet service offerings, enabling consumers to make well-informed choices. 


As CSPs navigate these new regulations, they find themselves in a scenario similar to retailers, where distinguishing their services in a transparent market is crucial for maintaining competitiveness and profitability. The new rule necessitates a shift in strategies to adopt a more retail-like approach, including creative pricing, product choices, and superior customer service, which becomes critical to attracting and retaining customers. Traditionally, CSPs competed primarily on coverage and cost, but with pricing and service details now laid bare, the competitive landscape shifts. To stay ahead, CSPs must become as dynamic and innovative as retailers who excel in marketing their commoditized products distinctively and compete beyond a price battle.

Innovative Monetization Approach

Retailers often avoid direct price comparisons through creative pricing and monetization approaches, often offering various commodities in different sizes tailored to specific market demands. For example, a chain of retail stores might offer unique sizes that aren't found in other retail chains or stores. Limited-edition flavors or sizes of snack foods may be exclusive to certain retail chains or specialty stores. 

CSPs can adopt a similar strategy of offering services in different "sizes" to better cater to the specific consumption patterns or needs of different customer segments. For instance, IoT devices such as tracking sensors in logistics might only need to periodically send small data packets to update their location. Traditional data plans could be costly and inefficient for such minimal data usage. CSPs can get creative by offering data plans that are measured by the number of pings rather than the traditional metric of data used. This approach would be particularly beneficial as IoT devices that use location-based services must send updates frequently but only consist of small data packets. By charging based on the number of pings or updates sent rather than the volume of data, CSPs can provide a cost-effective and efficient solution tailored specifically to the needs of IoT applications.

Another example is providing customized internet plans that adjust rates based on usage peaks, appealing to customers with variable data needs. 

Unique Bundles & Product Pairing

Another great way retailers keep a competitive edge is through unique bundles or product pairings, where they combine products from different lines of business (e.g., a technology bundle with a computer, printer, and office software) or products from various categories that complement each other (e.g., wine paired with gourmet cheese paired with various meats and marinades).

CSPs can offer unique bundles that combine internet services with digital streaming, smart home services, or exclusive content offerings to offer more value beyond the basic metrics of speed and cost.

A prime example is T-Mobile's Go5 bundle, which combines internet services with digital streaming, smart home technologies, and exclusive content offerings. This bundle not only enriches the consumer's value beyond the basic metrics of speed and cost but also integrates seamlessly with their lifestyle, offering a compelling mix of connectivity and entertainment. Such innovative bundles not only provide an excellent way for CSPs to avoid commoditization by distinguishing them from their competitors but also boost customer engagement and satisfaction by catering to modern consumers' varied interests and needs.

Value-added Services

Value-added services are another great way for CSPs to differentiate themselves. Similar to electronic retailers that offer maintenance service with TV purchases or extended warranties, CSPs can provide device upgrades, maintenance options, and other value-added services.

An exciting concept that is taking shape in several markets around the globe, most prominently in the Americas, is the in-flight Wi-Fi option. Frequent travelers can subscribe to in-flight Wi-Fi through their home internet providers to stay connected while on a flight. The convenience of having data connectivity, albeit through Wi-Fi, without having to share their credit card or personal information through yet another system has its rewards. Yet the flexibility of billing choice, where they can be billed through their home/work service provider and on the same account, is what the consumers are finding most useful.

These innovative approaches not only differentiate CSPs from competitors but also drive revenue while aligning more closely with individual consumer lifestyles and preferences.

Enhanced Customer Experience

However, there are more ways in which CSPs can emulate retailers to build brand loyalty. Just as retailers focus on customer experience, CSPs can simplify the buying process, offer robust support systems, and provide clear, accessible information to create brand loyalty and enhance retention. A great way to improve brand loyalty is by personalization.


Personalization can be applied to product offerings and promotions in the telecom sector. To avoid commoditization and generalization, CSPs can personalize everything from product to monetization to promotional content. Advanced data analytics and AI can enable CSPs to understand and predict customer preferences, allowing them to offer personalized plans and promotions. In addition to creating a better user experience, it can also help CSPs segment their market more effectively, avoiding one-size-fits-all solutions that are easily comparable.


The introduction of broadband nutrition labels is set to change how consumers choose their internet providers. For CSPs, this means an opportunity to rethink how they package and promote their services. By borrowing strategies from the retail industry, CSPs can transform regulatory compliance into a competitive advantage, ensuring they not only meet but exceed consumer expectations in the new era of transparency.

As CSPs adjust to the FCC's requirement for broadband nutrition labels, tools like Freestyle Billing offer the necessary flexibility to innovate pricing models effectively. Freestyle Billing allows CSPs to create tailored bundles and promotions that can differentiate their offerings in a transparent marketplace. Additionally, leveraging solutions like Bill Experience enhances this transparency, providing customers with clear, detailed billing information that aligns with the FCC's new standards. By adopting these advanced tools, CSPs can turn regulatory compliance into an opportunity for competitive differentiation and customer loyalty.

The flexibility of the Freestyle Billing solution lies in its ability to adapt to a diverse range of CSPs' needs and evolving market demands. This system supports dynamic billing scenarios, enabling CSPs to configure and manage diverse pricing strategies such as usage-based rates, time-of-use pricing, or bundled services. Moreover, Freestyle Billing can integrate with other service platforms to provide a seamless customer experience, allowing CSPs to quickly respond to market trends and customer preferences with customized offers and promotions. This adaptability is crucial for CSPs aiming to stand out in a highly regulated and competitive market.


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