Energy vulnerability can stem from an almost infinite amount of variables. Small fees can rack up and it just takes one to cause someone to be unable to pay bills. That is why this new law, passed by Congress on June 20th, 2020 is a win for consumers.
Internet service providers oftentimes charged rental fees for routers, even if you purhcased a router seperately from them. Frontier became infamous for this, charging a $10 monthly fee for their equipment "whether you use it or not" (their own words).The law isn't perfect, it requires you to return a router an ISP sends you for it to go into effect.
This means that it is now a cheaper option to ditch the router provided for you by your cable company and purchase your own, which reminds me a bit of how solar panels work. This means, only home owners might truly be able to take advantage of this.
It's also worth nothing that the reason this bill is only going into effect now is that the FCC was able to delay it by 6 months, stating that ISPs would fail if they couldn't charge this fee.
Anonymous, 19 December 2020, "Cable companies can no longer ‘rent’ you the router you already own", contributed by Andrew Rosenthal, The Energy Rights Project, Platform for Experimental Collaborative Ethnography, last modified 21 December 2020, accessed 29 November 2023. https://energyrights.info/content/cable-companies-can-no-longer-‘rent’-you-router-you-already-own