US internet service providers can continue to charge customers a device rental fee — even if they have their own equipment — at least until December 20th. A law barring the practice was set to go into effect on June 20th, but the Federal Communications Commission has extended the deadline for ISPs to comply due to the pandemic (via Ars Technica).
The “truth-in-billing” requirements of the Television Viewer Protection Act (TVPA) of 2019 state that ISPs must “refrain from charging a consumer for using equipment not provided by the service provider.”
The FCC said in its ruling that broadband ISPs are integral to efforts to “keep Americans informed and connected” during the COVID-19 pandemic, and it was granting the six-month extension “so that these service providers may focus their resources on this critical effort.”
Some internet service providers charge a monthly Wi-Fi router fee, even when a customer uses their own router. In one instance, a customer who complained to the FCC never even received a router from his ISP, Ars Technica has reported.
Most ISPs in the US committed to the FCC’s Keep Americans Connected Pledge in March, agreeing not to terminate internet service for residential and small business customers who may have difficulty paying bills due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The companies also agreed to waive late fees. Most carriers agreed to extend the pledge until June 30th, however, the FCC has received around 500 complaints involving “questions about billing or network issues or broadband access generally,” FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said last month.