Law banning “rental” fees for customer-owned routers takes effect Sunday

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New law also targets hidden cable-TV fees and lets users cancel without penalty.

Broadband and TV providers will finally be required to stop charging “rental” fees for equipment that customers own themselves, thanks to a new US law that takes effect on Sunday.

The bogus fees were outlawed by the Television Viewer Protection Act (TVPA), which was approved by Congress and signed by President Trump in December 2019. The law was originally scheduled to take effect on June 20, but Congress gave the Federal Communications Commission leeway to delay enforcement by six months if the FCC “finds that good cause exists for such an additional extension.”

The FCC in April granted the six-month delay to ISPs, claiming that providers needed more time to comply because of the coronavirus pandemic. That decision delayed implementation of the new requirements until December 20, 2020.

Frontier must finally stop bogus charge

The change is good news for customers of Frontier Communications, which has insisted on charging $10 rental fees to customers who use their own routers. As we wrote in July 2019, Frontier claimed it charges the fee to cover higher support costs for customers who use their own equipment. But Frontier said at the same time that it “cannot support or repair non-Frontier equipment,” contradicting its own justification for charging the fee.

Frontier took advantage of the six-month delay, telling Ars in June that it would “comply with the requirements when the law goes into effect” in December. Unlike Frontier, other major ISPs such as Comcast let customers avoid rental fees when they use their own routers.

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