Lawsuit Claims Internet Speed Rip-offs
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is suing Charter Communications over allegedly false claims of internet speeds.
As the Los Angeles Times reports,
The fine print of Charter Communications’ high-speed Internet service says a “small percent of customers will receive lower than advertised speeds.” One attorney general says the problem is actually widespread — “a consistent story of bad performance and a long-term business plan built on deceit."
Charter's high-speed internet service is called "Spectrum" and was formerly known as Time Warner Cable (TWC). Spectrum-TWC is the second-largest provider of Internet services in the US.
According to a press release from the Attorney General's office,
The suit alleges that subscribers’ wired internet speeds for the premium plan (100, 200, and 300 Mbps) were up to 70 percent slower than promised; WiFi speeds were even slower, with some subscribers getting speeds that were more than 80 percent slower than what they had paid for. As alleged in the complaint, Spectrum-TWC charged New Yorkers as much as $109.99 per month for premium plans could not achieve speeds promised in their slower plans.
The lawsuit only directly affects Spectrum's 2.5 million subscribers in New York. However, Schneiderman’s press secretary said the same issues “could very well be found with providers across the country."
Slower than Advertised
A 16-month investigation uncovered that wired Internet speeds were up to 70% slower than advertised, and WiFi speeds were up to 80% slower.
According to the lawsuit,
Spectrum-TWC executives knew that the company’s hardware and network were incapable of achieving the speeds promised to subscribers, but nevertheless continued to make false representations about speed and reliability.
For example, subscribers with older modems and wireless routers would be unable to achieve the advertised Internet speeds.
According to Schneiderman's office,
Spectrum-TWC leased deficient cable modems to over 900,000 subscribers in New York that could not deliver the advertised speeds. As of February 2016, Spectrum-TWC still charged over 185,000 New Yorkers, or roughly 7% of its 2.5 million active subscriber base at the time, $10 a month for deficient modems that, in its own words, were “not capable of supporting the service levels paid for.”
The complaint is seeking restitution for New York consumers and "injunctive relief" — which might include delivering on the promised speeds.
Getting Faster Internet
The reporter for the LA Times, a Spectrum subscriber, noted that he himself was paying for a download speed of 100 megabits per second but tested it at only 44 Mbps.
Consumers can find out how fast their Internet is supposed to be by checking their bills or calling their service providers.
Then, consumers can use free online speed tests such as Speedtest.net or Fast.com. Some internet providers have their own speed-test apps.
It's a good idea to check on a regular basis, as speeds can vary significantly at different times of the day, different days of the week, and over time.
Sometimes, a phone call to an internet provider can significantly improve speeds, because providers can adjust settings at their end.
Another possibility is to get a newer modem or router. Internet service providers often provide these free of charge, or lease them to consumers.
Yet another option is to insist on paying for only the level of service plan that matches the speeds you're obtaining.
For more on how to increase your home internet speed, read this.