Frontier Calls FTC Suit Over DSL Marketing 'Baseless'

An exterior view of the Federal Trade Commission building
(Image credit: Future)

The Federal Trade Commission has joined six states in suing Frontier Communications for allegedly not delivering the DSL internet speeds it promised its customers and charging for higher speeds than it delivered. Frontier counters that it will vigorously defend what it said is a baseless complaint.

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The FTC, along with Arizona, Indiana, Michigan, North Carolina, Wisconsin, and California filed the suit n the U.S. District court for the Central District of California.

Frontier, which recently emerged from bankruptcy proceedings, has more than three million internet customers, including 1.3 million residential broadband users in 25 states.

"In numerous instances, Frontier has sent consumers advertisements for DSL Internet service at speed tiers that Frontier could not provide to them," the complaint alleges, saying that at the point of sale--at the point of sending geo-targeted mailers or on the phone with potential customers--Frontier has information that it is unable to provide certain DSL speed tiers to consumers based on their addresses, but offered those ties anyway, and charged consumers for them.

"Since at least Jan. 1, 2015, Frontier has in numerous instances advertised, marketed, offered, or sold DSL Internet service at tiers corresponding to speeds that Frontier did not, and often could not, provide to consumers," the complaint alleged.

Responding to the complaint, Frontier said that it believed it was "without merit," and "includes baseless allegations, overstates any possible monetary harm to Frontier’s customers and disregards important facts." Those include, said the company, that "1) Frontier offers Internet service in some of the country’s most rural areas that often have challenging terrain, are more sparsely populated and are the most difficult to serve and 2) Frontier’s rural DSL Internet service was enthusiastically welcomed when it was launched and has retained many satisfied customers over the years."

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As to the claim it misrepresented its service in marketing it to customers, the company said: "Frontier’s DSL Internet speeds have been clearly and accurately articulated, defined and described in the Company’s marketing materials and disclosures."  

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.