Frontier lied about Web speeds and “ripped off clients,” FTC says

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A computer showing a slow-moving loading bar.

The Federal Commerce Fee as we speak stated it “has moved to cease Web service supplier Frontier Communications from mendacity to shoppers and charging them for high-speed Web speeds it fails to ship.”

Frontier was sued by the FTC in Could 2021, and on Thursday, it agreed to a settlement with the FTC and district attorneys in Los Angeles County and Riverside County who represented the individuals of California. Frontier should pay $8.5 million to California “for investigation and litigation prices” and one other $250,000 that shall be distributed to Frontier clients who had been harmed by Frontier’s alleged actions.

Frontier should additionally make modifications, corresponding to letting clients cancel service at no cost and “low cost[ing] the payments of California clients who haven’t been notified that they’re receiving DSL service that’s a lot slower than the very best marketed pace,” the FTC stated.

“Frontier lied about its speeds and ripped off clients by charging high-speed costs for gradual service,” stated FTC Bureau of Client Safety Director Samuel Levine. “Right now’s proposed order requires Frontier to again up its high-speed claims. It additionally arms clients lured in by Frontier’s lies with free, straightforward choices for dropping their gradual service.”

The settlement is pending a choose’s approval in US District Court docket for the Central District of California. The FTC authorized the proposed order in a 4-0 vote. Frontier didn’t admit or deny the lawsuit’s allegations.

Saying the FTC’s grievance “included baseless allegations and disregarded necessary info,” Frontier stated as we speak that it “settled the lawsuit in good religion to place it behind us so we may deal with our enterprise.”

Sluggish, inconsistent DSL

The lawsuit pertains to Frontier’s claims about its DSL Web service, which is way slower than fiber-to-the-home. DSL speeds additionally fluctuate considerably by location based mostly on how shut a buyer’s house is to the supplier’s infrastructure.

The FTC stated the proposed order will “require Frontier to substantiate its Web pace claims at a customer-by-customer degree for brand spanking new and complaining clients and notify clients when it’s unable to take action; require Frontier to make sure it might present the Web service speeds it advertises earlier than signing up, upgrading, or billing new clients; [and] prohibit Frontier from signing up new clients for its DSL Web service in areas the place the excessive variety of customers sharing the identical networking tools causes congestion leading to slower Web service.”

Furthermore, Frontier should “notify current clients who’re receiving DSL Web service at speeds decrease than was marketed and permit these clients to vary or cancel their service at no cost.”

Whereas clients will get some monetary aid and suppleness, many are nonetheless caught in areas the place Frontier DSL is the one selection. “Most of the subscribers to Frontier’s DSL service are in rural areas the place they might solely have one selection, or very restricted decisions, for Web service,” the FTC stated.

The settlement additionally says Frontier should deploy fiber-to-the-home service to 60,000 houses in California inside 4 years. That is along with Frontier’s earlier dedication to deploy fiber to 350,000 houses and companies in California by the tip of 2026, which got here as a part of a chapter settlement. The brand new settlement additionally specifies that the 60,000 houses should be along with any deployment made with funding from the Federal Communications Fee or from any state or native authorities grant.


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