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New York Attorney General Investigating Broadband Speed Deception
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Summary: The New York Attorney General’s office is investigating whether or not three major internet service providers are scamming their customers. 

Many New Yorkers know their internet service providers are guilty of bad customer service, but did they know they were being cheated by those companies too?


That’s what the New York Attorney General is about to find out. The office is investigating whether or not providers are overcharging consumers for high speed internet they sell but don’t deliver. According to The Verge, Verizon, Time Warner Cable, and Cablevision were sent letters, asking them to disclose how they advertise speeds to customers and the results of any internal testing of those speeds.

The Attorney General’s senior lawyer, Tim Wu, drafted the letters that were sent out on October 23, according to Bloomberg. The letters warned that the speeds Verizon, Time Warner Cable, and Cablevision offer “may deviate far enough from the speeds advertised to render the advertising deceptive.”

Wu went on to state that the disruptions to consumers’ speeds could be caused by interconnection disputes. This happens when one company’s service uses another company’s cables and infrastructure. Because of these inherent interconnection issues, it is irrelevant for any consumer to benefit for paying a premium for high speed internet.

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Wu is a known net neutrality advocate who joined the Attorney General’s office last month. He was previously a professor at Columbia Law School.


Tim Wu of the office of the New York Attorney General is an advocate for net neutrality. Photo courtesy of Washington Post.

Studies have shown that New York internet users can be charged almost 10 times the amount that residents of Hong Kong, Paris, and Tokyo pay for their high speed internet. These high speeds promise customers that they can easily download media and perform other web activities almost instantaneously.

“New Yorkers deserve the internet speeds they pay for,” said Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. “But it turns out, many of us may be paying for one thing and getting another. Families pay a huge cost already for internet access in New York, so I will not tolerate a situation in which they aren’t getting what they have been promised.”

All three companies have denied cheating customers and issued statements to Bloomberg.

“Optimum Online consistently surpasses advertised broadband speeds, including in FCC and internal tests. We are happy to provide any necessary performance information to the Attorney General as we do to our customers,” Cablevision said.

The companies have until November 8 to supply the Attorney General’s office with their requests, which include detailed performance metrics, sales-employee training materials, and information on interconnection.


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