FTC Reaches Settlement With Internet Company for Slow Speeds

May 5, 2022 by Madeline Hughes
FTC Reaches Settlement With Internet Company for Slow Speeds
(Frontier Communications)

WASHINGTON — The Connecticut-based internet provider Frontier Communications must increase its speeds or allow customers to cancel service without associated fees, according to an order from the Federal Trade Commission. 

“Frontier lied about its speeds and ripped off customers by charging high-speed prices for slow service,” Samuel Levine, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, wrote 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.”

This is part of a settlement with the company for its digital subscriber line service to California residents. Frontier will be required to pay $8.5 million in civil penalties and will have to build out fiber-optic internet service to 60,000 homes in the state over the next 4 years, costing an estimated $50-$60 million, according to the FTC’s statement.

Frontier offers a variety of DSL plans to 1.3 million customers across 25 different states. The prices of those plans differ by internet speed.


In May 2021 the FTC, attorneys general from six states and the district attorneys of Los Angeles County and Riverside County, California, sued the company because, “In numerous instances, Frontier or its sales representatives have offered consumers, and those consumers have accepted, subscriptions for DSL internet service at speed tiers that Frontier could not provide to those consumers,” according to the original complaint.

The company even slowed down service to some customers, capping the speed lower than the plan people paid for, noted the complaint.


The court dismissed the case against all of the states — Arizona, Indiana, Michigan, North Carolina and Wisconsin — allowing Los Angeles County and Riverside County to move ahead with the case.

“My office will not stand by while businesses take advantage of consumers by failing to provide them with the services they have purchased,” Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón wrote in a statement. “We will continue to work together with our law enforcement partners to make sure that companies fulfill their promises to consumers and that they refrain from making false statements in their advertisements.”

The new order from the commission also ensures the company substantiates its internet speed claims and that Frontier cannot sell internet in areas where customers are already having slowdowns because of the number of people using the service.

This 4-0 decision by the commission to implement these penalties also comes when there’s a renewed call to make information about internet speeds more accessible to customers.

The Federal Communications Commission is currently creating a broadband nutrition label that will require companies to disclose information like speeds. There’s also an attempt in the Senate to ensure more oversight over broadband providers getting federal funds to build out the infrastructure that connects people to the internet.


“The FTC’s announcement follows the settlement we entered into on March 11, 2022, following the FTC’s initial complaint filed on May 19, 2021. As we noted in May 2021, we believe the complaint included baseless allegations and disregarded important facts. 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. Our commitment is to our customers and providing them with access to high-speed internet and improving our service in rural and underserved areas,” a Frontier spokesperson said in an email statement.

Madeline can be reached at [email protected] and @MadelineHughes

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