Frontier Communications Northwest will pay $900,000 to Washington state — most of which will then go to customers — after an investigation by the attorney general’s office found the company charged customers undisclosed fees and misled them about the speed of its internet service, according to a legal agreement to be filed in Thurston County Court.
Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s office said in a news release that Frontier charged customers monthly internet infrastructure surcharges without adequately disclosing those fees. The legal agreement requires the company to be transparent with customers over fees in the future and stop the internet surcharges.
Most of the $900,000 payment to the state will go toward restitution to Frontier customers, according to the news release. More information will be made available about a claims process in the future, the news release said.
The agreement also requires Frontier Northwest to “be transparent about its available internet speeds,” according to the news release.
Frontier Northwest provides internet, cable and telephone services to mostly rural customers in Washington. At its peak, the company served more than 165,000 internet customers, according to Ferguson’s office.
Ferguson’s office began investigating Frontier Northwest in 2018 after receiving more than 600 complaints about the company, according to the news release.
“Broadband access is integral to our daily lives,” Ferguson said in the release. “The current pandemic has only amplified its importance. Knowing the true cost and speed of our internet connection is essential to make an informed decision about a service that connects us to our work and to each other. Companies must be able to deliver what they promise, at the price they advertise.”
Northwest Fiber purchased Frontier Northwest earlier this year in a $1.352 billion deal. Approval of the deal by the Washington Utilities & Transportation Commission requires Northwest Fiber to invest some $50 million in broadband infrastructure.