New Law Kills ISP Rental Fee Gouging On Customer-Owned Networking Gear
It’s a Christmas miracle! A law that will be going into effect on Sunday will make it so customers no longer have to pay rental fees for their own networking equipment. Also, ISPs will be required to delineate and itemize everything that goes into a bill. This is a big win for consumers everywhere and a step forward in tackling the issues with the telecommunications business.
For the legal nerds among us who want to read up on the law, you can find it under Public Law 116-94
, 133 Stat. 3200-3201. If you are like me and do not want to scroll through everything, here are a few vital abbreviated excerpts from the law:
CONSUMER RIGHTS IN SALES.—
‘‘(1) RIGHT TO TRANSPARENCY.—Before entering into a contract with a consumer for the provision of a covered service, a provider of a covered service [ISP etc.] shall provide the consumer…the total monthly charge for the covered service…explicitly noting the amount of any applicable promotional discount reflected in such charge and when such discount will expire), including any related administrative fees, equipment fees, or other charges…
CONSUMER RIGHTS TO ACCURATE EQUIPMENT CHARGES. — A provider of a covered service or fixed broadband internet access service may not charge a consumer for— ‘‘
(1) using covered equipment provided by the consumer; or
(2) renting, leasing, or otherwise providing to the consumer covered equipment if—
‘‘(A) the provider has not provided the equipment to the consumer; or
‘‘(B) the consumer has returned the equipment to the provider, except to the extent that the charge relates to the period beginning on the date when the provider provided the equipment to the consumer and ending on the date when the consumer returned the equipment to the provider.
The first piece essentially means that before you enter a contract with a service provider, the provider must first send you a full, itemized breakdown of the monthly bill. If you are using e-billing, you must be sent a digital copy of the complete breakdown (just so there are no loopholes with e-billing, ISPs are slippery). This may even be the best part of this new law, as being able to see what goes into a bill can allow consumers to make more informed decisions when it comes to their cable and internet providers. This is especially true as there is also a new “Right to Cancel” piece that allows consumers to cancel a contract within 24 hours of receiving notice, which contains the itemized bill breakdown and an alert that they are entering a contract with the provider.
The second law means that providers can no longer charge for equipment that the consumer owns and/or provides. While the law explicitly mentions routers, it could also mean cable tuners or DVR boxes in theory. Ultimately, over a year, not having to pay rental fees on something you own would save quite a bit of dough.
Overall, this could be a big deal for many people. Seeing what goes into a cable or internet bill easily and saving cash through informed shopping is excellent. Moreover, saving money on not having to rent your equipment is also great. Obviously, these things should not have needed laws for them to happen, but here we are. Let us know what you think of this new law coming into effect this Sunday in the comments below.