FTC and Calif. Resolve Dispute with ISP Frontier Over Connectivity Speed Misrepresentations

On Thursday, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), alongside the district attorneys of Los Angeles and Riverside counties, and internet service provider Frontier Communications stipulated to an agreement, ending the dispute accusing the ISP of lying to customers and charging them for high-speed internet it failed to provide. Pursuant to the agreement, Frontier will pay $8.5 million in civil penalties and costs as well as $250,000 that will be distributed to Frontier’s California customers harmed by the company’s practices. 

The California and federal plaintiffs took on Frontier last May, explaining that the Connecticut-based ISP “advertises and sells digital subscriber line (DSL) internet service in several plans, or tiers, based on download speed.” Additionally, the company purported that it could provide various DSL speeds based on the type of consumer plan purchased. The complaint also noted that many of its customers reportedly reside in rural areas where they have few, sometimes just one, choices for internet service.

The complaint said that Frontier sold customers short, providing speeds far slower than promised. Reportedly, and since Jan. 1, 2015, thousands of customers from Arizona, California, Indiana, Michigan, North Carolina, and Wisconsin have complained to Frontier and to government agencies, asserting that they did not receive the internet speed they were promised and paid for.

With this week’s agreement, Frontier, which went into bankruptcy last April, will be barred from further misrepresentations. The company will also have to communicate with customers in the event it cannot provide the service promised, and will give customers easy options for canceling their service.

Finally, the company must discount service to certain California customers deceived by its misrepresentations and must roll out faster, fiber-optic internet service to 60,000 residential areas in California over four years, at an estimated price tag of $50 to $60 million.