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AG Nessel Joins FTC Lawsuit Against Frontier Communications for Misrepresenting Internet Speeds
May 19, 2021
LANSING - Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel has signed on to a lawsuit initiated by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) against Internet service provider Frontier Communications, alleging that the company did not provide many consumers with Internet service at the speeds it promised them, and charged many of them for more expensive and higher-speed service than the company actually provided.
In a complaint, the FTC and its six state-including Michigan-partners allege that Frontier advertised and sold Internet service in several plans, or tiers, based on download speed. Frontier has touted these tiers using a variety of methods, including mail and online ads, and has sold them to consumers over the phone and online.
In reality, the FTC alleges, Frontier did not provide many consumers with the maximum speeds they were promised and the speeds they actually received often fell far short of what was touted in the plans they purchased.
The FTC's allegations concern Frontier's Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) Internet service, which is transmitted over copper telephone wires. Frontier provides DSL service to approximately 1.3 million consumers, many in rural areas, across 25 states.
Since at least January 2015, thousands of consumers complained to Frontier and government agencies that the company failed to provide DSL Internet service at the speeds they were promised. Many consumers have complained that the slower speeds actually provided by Frontier failed to support the typical online activities they should have been able to perform at the speed tiers Frontier had sold to them.
"Consumers must be able to trust the companies they're paying for specific services and the companies must deliver in exchange," Nessel said. "We joined this lawsuit because of my office's ongoing commitment to accountability and protecting Michigan consumers."
As of April 2019 Frontier had nearly 90,000 Michigan customers.
Nessel joined the FTC's complaint alongside attorneys general from Arizona, Indiana, North Carolina, and Wisconsin, as well as the district attorneys' offices of Los Angeles County and Riverside County on behalf of the State of California.
The complaint alleges that Frontier violated the FTC Act and various state laws by misrepresenting the speeds of Internet service it would provide consumers and engaged in unfair billing practices for charging consumers for a more expensive level of Internet service than it actually provided.
The Commission vote authorizing the staff to file the complaint was 4-0. The complaint was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.
NOTE: The Commission files a complaint when it has "reason to believe" that the named defendants are violating or are about to violate the law and it appears to the Commission that a proceeding is in the public interest. The case will be decided by the court.