The Federal Trade Commission joined law enforcement agencies in six states in suing Frontier Communications over allegedly charging customers for broadband speeds that were slower than what Frontier promised.
"This is an important action to hold a broadband provider accountable for the promises it makes about its service," acting chair Rebecca Slaughter tweeted Wednesday.
The complaint alleges that Frontier failed to deliver the maximum speeds it sold and advertised for DSL service, and in doing so, violated the FTC Act. The complaint was joined by attorneys general in Arizona, Indiana, Michigan, North Carolina and Wisconsin, as well as the district attorneys of Los Angeles and Riverside counties in California.
In a statement, a spokesperson for Frontier said the company believes the suit is "without merit."
"The plaintiffs' complaint includes baseless allegations, overstates any possible monetary harm to Frontier's customers and disregards important facts," the spokesperson said, citing the fact that Frontier operates in hard-to-reach rural areas and has "retained many satisfied customers over the years."
In her comments on Twitter, Slaughter pointed to the allegations against Frontier as evidence of the damage done by the repeal of net neutrality protections under the Trump-era Federal Communications Commission. "The FTC will do what we can to hold broadband providers accountable. But the pandemic has underscored the essential nature of internet access; just like the country's water, electricity, and phone services, ISPs require direct and on-going oversight," Slaughter wrote. "That active oversight by the proper regulator may have prevented these violations."
Issie Lapowsky (@issielapowsky) is a senior reporter at Protocol, covering the intersection of technology, politics, and national affairs. Previously, she was a senior writer at Wired, where she covered the 2016 election and the Facebook beat in its aftermath. Prior to that, Issie worked as a staff writer for Inc. magazine, writing about small business and entrepreneurship. She has also worked as an on-air contributor for CBS News and taught a graduate-level course at New York University’s Center for Publishing on how tech giants have affected publishing. Email Issie.