Internet service provider Frontier Communications has reached an interim legal settlement worth nearly $70 million with Riverside County and other plaintiffs for false advertising and related civil violations stemming from the company’s inability to provide customers with broadband service, it was announced today.
The lawsuit, initiated by the Federal Trade Commission and joined by the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office, as well as the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, was filed a year ago in U.S. District Court following of a month-long investigation in California.
The Riverside County DA Consumer Protection Unit took the initiative to pursue the matter.
The agency said the settlement, pending approval by U.S. District Court Judge R. Gary Klausner in Los Angeles, proposes $8.57 million in civil penalties, with a separate $250,000 expected to be distributed. to Frontier customers statewide in small unspecified amounts to mitigate the inconvenience they endured due to Frontier’s misrepresentation.
The heart of the settlement, however, is the proposed rollout of fiber optic internet connections — high-speed — to about 60,000 residences statewide, an investment valued at nearly $60 million, prosecutors say.
The attorneys general of Arizona, Indiana, Michigan, North Carolina and Wisconsin originally signed on as co-plaintiffs. However, last October Klausner denied their claims due to jurisdictional disputes.
Frontier did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the settlement.
Riverside County prosecutors said Frontier offers its customers different “tiers” of digital subscriber lines that guarantee fast internet connectivity. However, dating back to January 2015, complaints began pouring in from Frontier and government agencies that the company was not providing promised services, according to the prosecutor’s office.
“Many consumers have complained that the slower Internet speeds provided by Frontier do not support typical online activities that should have been available at the speed levels sold to them,” the agency said in its statement. announcement of the trial last year.
The FTC gathered evidence and ultimately determined that the Norwalk, Connecticut-based telecommunications company had allegedly violated FTC law.
In Riverside County, prosecutors identified apparent violations of the False Advertising Act and the Unfair Competition Act, two provisions of the Business and Professions Code.
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