FTC Says Frontier Lied About Internet Speeds, Settles Case

The FTC has settled a case in which Frontier Communications was accused of charging high prices for underprovided Internet connectivity.

The US telecommunications giant has promised to be clearer with subscribers about connection speeds, and will shell out more than $8.5 million, less than a day’s worth of annual profits, to close the deal.

Frontier used to deliver broadband primarily over phone lines to people in rural areas, expanded to cities, and now provides the usual fare to homes and businesses: fiber internet, TV, and phone services.

Thousands of its subscribers, however, have complained that they cannot use Frontier’s Internet to perform even basic tasks, prompting the FTC to investigate. The US government watchdog, along with state prosecutors, in turn took Connecticut-based Frontier to court last May.

FTC commissioners have now voted 4-0 to approve a settlement agreement with Cableco, and have asked a California federal judge to approve the package. Frontier will have to produce evidence of the internet speeds it claims to provide and will not admit any guilt as part of the settlement [PDF].

The settlement also requires the phone company to pay $8.5 million “in civil penalties and costs to the Los Angeles County and Riverside County attorneys’ offices on behalf of California consumers,” according to the FTC, and 250 An additional $000 to customers who specifically suffered from below-average broadband, with any excess money going to the Consumer Protection Trust Fund.

The FTC also wants Frontier to offer discounts to internet users who weren’t told their internet connection was slower than expected. Additionally, the telco is to shell out $50 million to $60 million to roll out fiber-optic internet service to 60,000 locations in California over the next four years.

“Frontier lied about its speeds and ripped off customers by charging high-speed prices for slow service,” Samuel Levine, director of the FTC’s Consumer Protection Bureau, thundered in a statement. “[The] the proposed order forces Frontier to back up its claims at high speed. It also gives customers lured by Frontier’s lies free and easy options to ditch their slow service.”

Before being hit by the FTC lawsuit, the company announced that it had successfully emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and has since expanded to support fiber internet. . Frontier made $5 billion in net profit in 2021 and boasted a “reinvented brand identity” in its latest financial report.

“My office will not sit idly by while companies take advantage of consumers by not providing them with the services they have purchased,” said Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón, one of the prosecutors involved in the case. the case.

“We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to ensure that companies keep their promises to consumers and refrain from making false claims in their advertisements.”

The register asked Frontier for a comment. Maybe the call didn’t go through. ®

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