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NYS AG announces agreements with more ISPs on how internet speeds are marketed

Just days after the NYS Attorney General announced a big settlement with Charter Spectrum over the way internet speeds had been marketed, AG Barbara Underwood announced on Saturday that four major New York State internet service providers, Altice, Frontier, RCN and Verizon, have entered into agreements that Underwood says "transform how the broadband industry in New York State markets internet speeds.”

The attorney general says that along with Charter, the ISPs entering into agreements now provide service to the vast majority of New York internet subscribers.

The agreements require the ISPs to market internet speeds as “wired,” to substantiate their speed claims with regular speed testing, and to warn consumers that “wireless speeds may vary.” The ISPs must also spell out the relative benefits of speeds and services accurately, ensure that there is sufficient network capacity to deliver advertised content from third party providers, like Netflix, and undertake other reforms designed to improve internet service and make marketing clearer and more accurate.

The agreements also include direct financial commitments by the ISPs to improve network infrastructure and compensate for the harm to certain consumers.

In terms of Frontier (which, among other regions, provides internet and phone services in the Rochester area), the settlement requires the company to spend no less than an additional $25 million to upgrade its network infrastructure upstate to relieve congestion and improve service.

The AG’s office also says that Frontier also agreed to a series of specific requirements, including the obligation to advertise speeds as a range and to refund half the future fees paid by any customer who is not capable of receiving 100% of the speed they were told they would get.

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Frontier Communications released this statement to WXXI News when asked to respond to the agreement:

"Frontier worked collaboratively with the State of New York to develop an investment proposal that delivers enhanced service quality to our customers, provides additional transparency in customer marketing information and adds improvements to our telecommunications infrastructure, particularly in rural unserved and underserved areas of the state. By encouraging flexibility and investment, our mutually beneficial approach creates service quality improvements that benefit Frontier’s customers and communities we serve in New York.  We look forward to continuing to work as a collaborative partner in efforts to close the digital divide and deliver reliable, affordable services to our customers.”

Randy Gorbman is WXXI's director of news and public affairs. Randy manages the day-to-day operations of WXXI News on radio, television, and online.