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Congress passed a piece of legislation called the Television Viewer Protection Act (TVPA) in 2020 that was meant to prevent ISPs from charging customers a rental fee for cable modem routers even if they weren’t using them, but the law doesn’t seem to be working out too well based on feedback received by Consumer Reports.

After setting up a page that called on members to share their experiences about router fees, the nonprofit organization received hundreds of comments from users, many of whom indicated that they were still being charged by internet and/or TV providers for hardware that they either don’t use or were forced to adopt due to unfair tactics such as refusing support for non-ISP-provided equipment.

Consumer Reports has since submitted a filing to the FCC, one that urges the agency to investigate whether internet service providers and multichannel video programming distributors are complying with the TVPA.

Router and modem rental fees still a major annoyance despite new US law (Ars Technica)

  • In a filing submitted to the FCC this week, Consumer Reports said it asked members about their Internet bills and got over 350 responses, with some suggesting violations of either the letter or spirit of the law.
  • Consumer Reports’ filing came in response to the FCC asking for public comment on the implementation of the Television Viewer Protection Act (TVPA), which took effect in December 2020. In addition to price-transparency rules for TV service, the law prohibited TV and broadband providers from charging rental or lease fees when “the provider has not provided the equipment to the consumer; or the consumer has returned the equipment to the provider.”
  • Consumer Reports also told the FCC that “tactics reported by some CR members where ISPs allegedly dissuade consumers from using their own equipment for broadband service may not be a direct violation of the law; however, they strike us as running afoul of the spirit of [the] law, which promotes consumer freedom and the choice to not have to rent devices from their ISPs.”

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2 comments

  1. I struggled a little to order Verizon FiOS service without a modem or a set top box, as those were just assumed in all of their online order forms. I had to actually talk to customer service to customize that, but once I did, I've never been charged for them.

    That said, whats to stop the ISP's from just calling it a "service fee" and charging it to all customers whether or not they rent a modem? Whose to say that fee has anything at all to do with hardware rental?

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