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TV & streaming

New law could save you money on your cable and internet bills

Cable bills have been rising to out of control prices for a few years now. That’s what sparked the cut the cord phenomenon in the first place. It’s not just the plan you chose making it so expensive, either.

Tons of hidden fees are constantly being added. Tap or click here to see some of the fees you didn’t know you’ve been paying for.

Now, Congress has given the American people the freedom of transparent internet fees. The Television Viewer Protection Act (TVPA), which was first introduced a year ago, has finally become law. It into effect this week after Congress granted the FCC a hold on enforcement for six months. Here’s what it means for you.

What the new law means

One great thing to come from the new law is you will no longer be charged a rental fee for broadband equipment that you own. If you use your own modem or router to connect to the internet, your Internet Service Provider (ISP) can’t charge you a “rental” fee.

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Before the law was approved, the biggest opponent thereof was Frontier Communications. The company notoriously charged customers $10 for a device that they outright owned.

At the time, Frontier claimed the rental fees were to cover the higher support costs of owned devices. But in the same breath said that it couldn’t repair any self-owned devices. The company has changed its tune and says it is now compliant with the TVPA.

“Customers that are charged for covered equipment may return equipment and will not have equipment charges. If a customer uses their own equipment, they may face compatibility issues with their service depending on the equipment, and Frontier may not be able to provide technical support,” Frontier said.

No more hidden internet fees

What the TVPA also curtails are hidden fees that customers might not be aware of when they sign up.

Under the new regulations, it will compel providers to inform customers about exact charges before signing up. This will need to include the total monthly charge for services, additional fees, equipment rentals (if any) and taxes.

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Providers are also be required to relay the same information to the customer within 24 hours of signing up. There will be no penalty or fee for canceling the subscription after reviewing this information.

“While the TVPA doesn’t do much to help existing pay-TV customers, it would help new customers avoid signing up for a service they can’t afford,” Public Knowledge wrote in a blog post. The organization helped push the bill through Congress.

Before you get excited about the prospect of paying less, pay-TV providers will likely handle the situation differently. Comcast has already done away with rental fees on owned equipment, but others have remained silent.

The new regulations also don’t apply to existing customers. It is only aimed at new subscribers, and it won’t stop providers from increasing fees to recoup the losses.

As long as all fees are disclosed upfront, you will be better informed to make a wise decision on which services you’d like to sign up for. Transparency is always best for consumers.

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