FTC Lawsuit: Frontier Communications Misled Customers About DSL Speeds

Since at least January 2015, thousands of consumers have complained to Frontier and government agencies.

Edward Gately, Senior News Editor

May 19, 2021

2 Min Read

In the aftermath of its emergence from Chapter 11 bankruptcy, Frontier Communications faces a Federal Trade Commission (FTC) lawsuit. It alleges the company misrepresented internet speeds.

The FTC and law enforcement agencies from six states filed the lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.

The FTC lawsuit alleges Frontier did not provide many consumers with internet service at the speeds it promised them. Moreover, it allegedly charged many of them for more expensive and higher-speed service than was actually provided.

Frontier emerged from bankruptcy last month. It reportedly trimmed some $11 billion in debt and obtained a liquidity of about $1.3 billion.

FTC Lawsuit Based on Consumer Complaints

The FTC filed the lawsuit with the attorneys general from Arizona, Indiana, Michigan, North Carolina and Wisconsin. It also includes district attorneys’ offices on behalf of California.

The complaint alleges 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, which include mail and online ads. And it has sold them to consumers over the phone and online.

The FTC’s allegations concern Frontier’s DSL internet service, which it transmits over copper telephone wires. Frontier provides DSL service to about 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 failed to support the typical online activities they should have been able to perform at the speed tiers Frontier had sold to them.

The lawsuit alleges Frontier violated the FTC Act and various state laws.

The Commission said it files a complaint when it has “reason to believe” defendants are violating or are about to violate the law, and a lawsuit is in the public interest.

Frontier Plans ‘Vigorous’ Defense

When contacted about the lawsuit, Frontier sent us the following statement:

Frontier believes the lawsuit is without merit. The plaintiffs’ complaint includes baseless allegations, overstates any possible monetary harm to Frontier’s customers and disregards important facts, including the following:

  • Frontier offers internet service in some of the country’s most rural areas that often have challenging terrain, are more sparsely populated and are the most difficult to serve;

  • Frontier’s rural DSL internet service was enthusiastically welcomed when it was launched and has retained many satisfied customers over the years; and

  • Frontier’s DSL internet speeds have been clearly and accurately articulated, defined and described in the company’s marketing materials and disclosures.

Frontier will present a vigorous defense.

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About the Author(s)

Edward Gately

Senior News Editor, Channel Futures

As news editor, Edward Gately covers cybersecurity, new channel programs and program changes, M&A and other IT channel trends. Prior to Informa, he spent 26 years as a newspaper journalist in Texas, Louisiana and Arizona.

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