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FTC Cracks Down On Frontier For Lying About Internet Speeds

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The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has asked broadband provider Frontier Communications to be more honest about its prices and internet speeds. This comes as part of a proposed order filed by the FTC and two California law enforcement agencies.

“Frontier lied about its speeds and ripped off customers by charging high-speed prices for slow service,” the director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, Samuel Levine said in a statement. “Today’s proposed order requires Frontier to back up its high-speed claims. It also arms customers lured in by Frontier’s lies with free, easy options for dropping their slow service.”

The FTC’s proposed order states that Frontier should allow users to cancel their services at no cost. Especially if the advertised speeds aren’t provided. In response, a Frontier spokesperson told CBS MoneyWatch that these are “baseless allegations” and that the agency “disregarded important facts.”

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“Furthermore, the March 2022 settlement stipulates that we admit no wrongdoing. We settled the lawsuit in good faith to put it behind us so we could focus on our business — that’s in the best interest of all our stakeholders, and especially our customers,” the spokesperson further said. “Our commitment is to our customers and providing them with access to high-speed internet and improving our service in rural and underserved areas.”

Frontier has to pay up $8.5 million in costs and civil penalties

The FTC has ordered Frontier to pay $8.5 million in costs and civil penalties to the Riverside County and Los Angeles Country district attorneys’ offices. Separately, the broadband provider will have to shell out $250,000 to be distributed amongst impacted customers across California.

The agency is ordering Frontier to implement fiber-optic internet service in 60,000 California homes over a four-year period. As per initial estimates, this infrastructure expansion could cost around $50 million to $60 million.

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FTC’s order also limits Frontier’s ability to sign up more digital subscriber line (DSL) customers. The provider must also notify users when they’re getting lower speeds than promised.

Frontier has been in the FTC’s crosshairs for a while. The agency alleged in a 2021 complaint that the provider was misleading customers about internet speeds. This was in response to thousands of complaints from customers, dating back to at least January 2015.