US-ASK-SAM-Speeds-by-Companies-320"Up to" claims generally False Advertising. Connecticut-based Frontier must, "reduce its monthly rate for affected customers to $9.99 – a savings of $10 to $20 per month. The reduced rate will remain in effect until the mandated improvements allow Frontier to increase existing download speeds provisioned at 1.5 Mbps or lower to at least 6 Mbps." In addition, Frontier must spend $150M more than planned on upgrades. The cost of their settlement is over $6.000 for each of 28,000 homes affected. 

West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey achieved something neither Britain's OFCOM, Germany's BNetzA or the U.S. FCC or FTC have ever achieved. Since the frist consumer broadband lines were installed around 1999, telcos have knowingly misled customers on both speed and pricing.

It was often decried; FCC Chair Kevin Martin in 2007 said, "If the company advertises 3 megabits to the Internet, they should deliver 3 megabits to the Internet." As far as I know, no government has ever enforced basic truth in advertising. 

The evidence must be compelling for Frontier to agree to such a large settlement. They have a $million/year lawyer/lobbyist on staff, former FCC Commissioner Kathleen Abernathy. She certainly capable of

tying

something like this up for years in court if the case wasn't very clear. Frontier is particularly vulnerable to complaints of not delivering promised speeds because they are among the worst performers on the FCC tests. (See illustration based on the latest FCC/AskSam testing.)

Verizon decided in 2004 to sell West Virginia and from then on treated the state the way the Romans treated the Sabine women. Frontier promised to fix that when they bought the lines from Verizon. They've failed, despite the $40M in stimulus funding NTIA gave them by ignoring their own rules.

The situation is so bad even Republicans are suggesting the state put up the money to create competition.

Eric Eyre and the West Virginia Gazette-Mail have been doing excellent reporting on broadband in their state. 

Attorney General Morrisey Reaches $160M Settlement with Frontier Communications

 12/10/2015

CHARLESTON — West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey announced today an estimated $160 million settlement with Frontier Communications to resolve complaints involving Internet speeds provided to consumers.

The multi-faceted settlement requires Frontier to invest at least $150 million in capital expenditures to increase Internet speeds across West Virginia and provide access to areas currently without high-speed service. It also lowers monthly rates for affected consumers and contributes $500,000 to the state’s Consumer Protection Fund.

The agreement is the largest, independently negotiated consumer protection settlement in West Virginia history.

Attorney General Morrisey believes the Frontier settlement, over a three-year period, will help provide high-speed Internet coverage to most remaining parts of unconnected, rural West Virginia.

“This agreement is a game changer for the Mountain State,” he said. “The settlement helps consumers receive the high-speed service they expected, while directing significant monies to help fix connectivity issues that consistently keep our state from achieving economic success.”

Attorney General Morrisey’s office, between 2013 and 2015, received multiple complaints from customers paying for Frontier’s high-speed service, which advertised Internet speeds up to 6 megabits per second.

Many consumers advised their Frontier service was slow or did not meet expectations. The subsequent investigation found many customers expecting Internet speeds “up to 6 Mbps” frequently received speeds 1.5 Mbps or lower.

Frontier denied any allegation of wrongdoing and entered into the settlement to resolve disputed claims without the necessity of protracted and expensive litigation.

The centerpiece of the settlement requires Frontier to invest at least $150 million in capital expenditures, over three years, aimed at establishing and maintaining high-speed Internet across West Virginia.

That investment must be in addition to the $180 million in upgrades Frontier has planned as part of the federal government’s Connect America Fund II.

Attorney General Morrisey noted this settlement marks “just the beginning” of his office’s efforts on connectivity issues, which if addressed, will allow West Virginia to reach her potential.

The settlement also requires Frontier to reduce its monthly rate for affected customers to $9.99 – a savings of $10 to $20 per month. The reduced rate will remain in effect until the mandated improvements allow Frontier to increase existing download speeds provisioned at 1.5 Mbps or lower to at least 6 Mbps.

Frontier indicates eligible customers do not need to apply for the price credit. The company expects customers will automatically see the reduction within the next one or two billing cycles.

Frontier estimates approximately 28,000 customers will benefit from the rate decrease, in addition to any new customers provisioned at the slower speed. The reductions are expected to cost Frontier $6.25 million per year, although that number will shrink as improvements are completed.

“The reduced rate gives Frontier a strong incentive to raise speeds for these customers,” Attorney General Morrisey said.

Another provision requires Frontier to pay $500,000 to the state’s Consumer Protection Fund. That payment will offset investigative and monitoring expenses in addition to helping defray the costs of transitioning consumers to higher Internet speeds.

Attorney General Morrisey pointed out that no portion of the settlement will be diverted to reimburse outside law firms. Legal work regarding this matter was handled within his office, potentially saving the state hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars in legal fees.

Frontier also pledged, in good faith, to address service needs for other customers not included in the aforementioned group of 28,000 consumers, who are not receiving high-speed Internet that meets their expectations.

Attorney General Morrisey noted that Frontier cooperated with his office and worked in good faith to structure the agreement.

“The only way we become more competitive with neighboring states and lift West Virginia out of poverty is through investments in the state’s infrastructure,” he said. “Through this settlement, we can begin to address the high-speed Internet challenges we face statewide.

“We have a strong consumer protection division with a record of delivering for our state’s citizens,” Attorney General Morrisey added.

Frontier further agreed, as part of the settlement, to make no attempt at passing costs associated with the settlement onto consumers through any regulatory proceeding, including those before the state Public Service Commission.

Those with further questions can contact the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division at 800-368-8808 or visit the office online at www.wvago.gov.

Frontier also has established a website with additional information, www.frontier.com/WVinfo, and a customer service phone number at 888-449-0217.

View a copy of the settlement at http://bit.ly/WVfrontier.

 

 

 Peter T. DePasquale Peter T. DePasquale

Eric Eyre

The world needs a good news source on Internet and telecom policy. I hope to create one. Catch a mistake? Email me please.  Dave Burstein

Latest

Professor Noam's "Many Internets" http://bit.ly/ManyNets

Until about 2010, everyone agreed the Net was a "network of networks," not a monolithic entity. There was a central authority, ICANN, keeping track of domain names, but that was a minor administrative function.
Columbia Professor Noam suggests we might be better off accepting that some nations or groups might want to organize their networks differently. It's easy to see demand for an Internet with much more effective filters against material some think harmful to children. (Any 10 year old can easily find porn today. Many do.)
Internet translation is getting better very quickly. You might want an "Internet" that translates everything into your language. Google Chrome translation isn't perfect but I was able to research most of this story on Russian language sites. With a few more years progress, I might welcome an alternate that brings me everything in English, including caching for better performance.
De facto, Internet news is already split, as hundreds of millions only get their news from Facebook. Google AMP pages, including for news, also favor selected parts of the net
Centralizing the DNS doesn't prevent censorship, as the Chinese have demonstrated. There are many Jewish and Muslim fundamentalists who want to block what they consider blasphemy and limit free speech. See http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/21/nyregion/ultra-orthodox-jews-hold-rally-on-internet-at-citi-field.html . More from Noam http://bit.ly/ManyNets

Russia Orders Alternate Root Internet System http://bit.ly/RussiaDNS
It's actually practical and not necessarily a problem.The Security Council of the Russian Federation, headed by Vladimir Putin, has ordered the "government to develop an independent internet infrastructure for BRICS nations, which would continue to work in the event of global internet malfunctions ... This system would be used by countries of the BRICS bloc – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa." RT
Columbia University Professor Eli Noam and then ICANN CEO Fadi Chehadé have both said such a system is perfectly practical as long as there is robust interconnection.
Actually, the battle over ICANN and domain names is essentially symbolic. Managing the DNS is a relatively insignificant task, more clerical than governing. ICANN Chair Steve Crocker pointed out they had very little to do with policy.
Some will claim this is about blocking free speech but that's rhetoric. Russia doesn't need to fiddle with the DNS for censorship, as the Chinese have demonstrated. The wonders of the Internet will continue so long as the resulting nets" are robustly connected. The ICANN and U.S. policy goal should be to help create that system for interconnection.
I expect contentions that “The Russians are taking over our Internet” and “They are splitting the Internet.” The Internet is a “Network of Networks.” It is not a monolith so what would “splitting” it mean or do?
After the WCIT, China realized that ICANN and the DNS are side issues not worth bothering about. They have been building alternate institutions including the World Internet Summit in Wuzhan and the BRICs conferences.  The Chinese have put their main work where decisions that matter are made. Wireless standards are set by 3GPP, where nothing can be approved without China's consent.
The American battle at ITU is proving to be a historic mistake.
Why does Russia want an independent Internet?
They fear that Western sanctions on Russia could cripple the Russian Net. Communications minister, Nikolay Nikiforov, worries about, "a scenario where our esteemed partners would suddenly decide to disconnect us from the internet." I think that's highly unlikely but Nikiforov points out, “Recently, Russia is being addressed in a language of unilateral sanctions: first, our credit cards are being cut off; then the European Parliament says that they’ll disconnect us from SWIFT."
It makes sense for the Russians to be prepared for such a contingency as the Cold War has been warming up on both sides. "Britain's top military chief Air Chief Marshal Sir Stuart Peach just made headlines warning Russian subs "could CRIPPLE Britain by cutting undefended undersea internet cables." Much more http://bit.ly/RussiaDNS

ICANN Continues Excluding Russia & China From the Board http://bit.ly/CEOPromises
No wonder Russia wants an alternate root. Three years ago, ICANN CEO Fadi Chehadé promised "a seat at the table" to Chinese Premier Li. ICANN welched and this year added two more Americans.
Almost all the ICANN board is from the U.S. and close allies; only about 4 of the 18 board members are from countries on the other side of the North/South divide in Internet policy.  Claiming ICANN represents the Global Internet is inappropriate. China is 1/3rd of the Internet but has no representation on the board.
I know many of the board members. They are all basically honorable but generally share a strong opinion on North-South issues.
Larry Strickling of the U.S. government knew just what he was doing with the IANA transition. He handed over to a board with similar positions as the U.S. government.
"The system is unsustainable while it excludes half the world," I have been saying since 2012. More, including the transcript of Fadi's statements,http://bit.ly/CEOPromises

Sorry, Ajit Pai: Smaller Telcos Did Not Reduce Investment After NN Ruling http://bit.ly/SorryPai
Pai justifies his NN choice with the claim, "The impact has been particularly serious for smaller Internet service providers." #wrong (Actually, NN has minimal effects on investment, up or down, I’m convinced. Competition, new technology, customer demand and similar are far more important.)
The two largest suppliers to “smaller ISPs” saw sales go up. Adtran's sales the most recent nine months were $540M, up from $473M the year before. 2016 was $636M, 2015 $600M. Calix the last nine months sold $372M, up from $327M. The full year 2016 was $459M, up from $407M in 2015. Clearfield, a supplier of fiber optic gear, was up 8% in sales in the smaller ISPs.
There is nothing in the data from others that suggests an alternate trend. Anyone could have found this data in a few minutes from the company quarterly reports.
The results in larger companies are ambiguous. I can "prove" capex went up or went down by selecting the right data. The four largest companies' capex - two/thirds of the total - went up from $52.7B in 2015 to $55.7B in 2016. The result remains positive after making sensible adjustments for mergers and acquisitions. That's as close to "proving" that NN led to increased spending as the facts chosen to prove the opposite.
Actually, whether capex went up or down in 2016 tells us almost nothing about the choice on neutrality. Everyone knows a single datapoint could be random or due to other causes. Much more, including the source of the errors http://bit.ly/SorryPai

Elders Bearing Witness: Vint, Timbl, & Many More http://bit.ly/VintTim
Vint Cerf, Tim Berners-Lee, Steve Wozniak and more than a dozen true Internet pioneers wrote Congress to protect Neutrality. The best Congress money can buy didn't listen but I wanted to reproduce their letter.
I hope they are wrong believing "is an imminent threat to the Internet we worked so hard to create." My take is the impact will be moderate in the short run.
From the letter:
We are the pioneers and technologists who created and now operate the Internet, and some of the innovators and business people who, like many others, depend on it for our livelihood. ... The FCC’s proposed Order is based on a flawed and factually inaccurate understanding of Internet technology. These flaws and inaccuracies were documented in detail in a 43-page-long joint comment signed by over 200 of the most prominent Internet pioneers and engineers and submitted to the FCC on July 17, 2017.
Despite this comment, the FCC did not correct its misunderstandings, but instead premised the proposed Order on the very technical flaws the comment explained. The technically-incorrect proposed Order ... More, including the full list, http://bit.ly/VintTim