Biden Budget Cites ISPs’ ‘Unfair,’ ‘Junk’ Fees

U.S. President Joe Biden signs the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act as he is surrounded by lawmakers and members of his Cabinet during a ceremony on the South Lawn at the White House on Nov. 15, 2021 in Washington, DC.
President Joe Biden signs the infrastructure bill, which mandated broadband labeling. (Image credit: Alex Wong/Getty Images)

President Joe Biden’s just-released budget takes a shot at internet service providers in the intro to the document, where the administration talks up the results it says it has already delivered, including under the heading “promoting competition and entrepreneurship.”

Among the actions it says it has taken to “crack down” on “unfair hidden junk fees” are new Federal Communications Commission rules, which go into effect next year, requiring ‘broadband nutrition labels” so consumers can get “key information’ on internet service options.

Also: ISPs Seek Label Clarification

Actually, the FCC has been promoting such voluntary labeling for a half-dozen years and it was Congress that mandated them, though it was indeed at the administration’s prompting as part of its massive infrastructure bill with its billions for broadband buildouts.

The label must be on ISP websites, ads and in other marketing materials and at the point of purchase, but it does not have to be on monthly bills.

The president’s budget, which was submitted to Congress Thursday (March 9), actually adds to that total with $400 million more for the ReConnect program that provides subsidies for rural broadband buildouts, including Tribal lands.

In 2021, the Agriculture Department made $1.15 billion in federal loans and grants available to expand high-speed internet access in rural communities across the country through the ReConnect Program, part of Biden’s Build Back Better agenda. ■

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.