Using unusually harsh language, the Federal Trade Commission and two California law enforcement agencies said they’ve stepped in to stop Frontier Communications from “lying” about internet speeds and “ripping off" customers, including by requiring Frontier to build out fiber and pay millions of dollars in reparations.
Specifically, the FTC said the broadband provider had been charging for high-speed internet speeds it failed to deliver under several digital subscriber line (DSL) service plans per an FTC complaint filed in May 2021 it had now settled with the agency. Frontier will pay $8.5 million in civil penalties and costs, as well as $250,000 to go to the “ripped off" California Frontier customers and future discounts for DSL service.
Frontier will also have to deploy its fiber plant in California more quickly over the next four years.
The settlement announcement came a day before Frontier reported its earnings, which it said represented three consecutive quarters of record operations growth, including building out fiber to a “record” 211,000 locations.
The proposed settlement — which must be approved by a U.S. District Court judge — would:
• “Require Frontier to substantiate its internet speed claims at a customer-by-customer level for new and complaining customers and notify customers when it is unable to do so;
• “Require Frontier to ensure it can provide the internet service speeds it advertises before signing up, upgrading, or billing new customers;
• “Prohibit Frontier from signing up new customers for its DSL internet service in areas where the high number of users sharing the same networking equipment causes congestion resulting in slower internet service; and
• “Require the company to notify existing customers who are receiving DSL internet service at speeds lower than was advertised and allow those customers to change or cancel their service at no charge.”
The language in the press release on the settlement differed markedly in tone from the May 2021 announcement of the complaint, which alleged the company had “misrepresented” internet speeds and “failed to deliver” on its promises. ▪️
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.
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