New York Sues Time Warner Over Slow Internet Speeds

Did Time Warner Cable defraud customers by falsely advertising their internet speed? A current lawsuit alleges they did, claiming the company neglected to maintain their service and secretly worked to confuse the FCC.

The suit was filed by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman on behalf of residents of the state who suffered from much slower than advertised internet speeds, mostly in regards to the streaming video service Netflix or the popular online game League of Legends. The initial complaint, which was released back in February, was 87 pages long, and insisted that TWC was engaging in “fraudulent and deceptive practices.” That complaint is based on data from both Netflix and from Riot Games, the publisher of LoL.

There are several layers to the case against Time Warner Cable (now Spectrum). The first is that the company leased modems and routers they knew couldn’t reach advertised speeds. And consumer connections were directly tied to their internet pricing tiers, meaning the more a customer paid, the less value they got overall.

Just how bad was the service? In his report, Schneiderman wrote that “subscribers on the 300 Mbps plan typically received 15% of the promised speed.” People who had the 200 Mbps plan got about 20%, subscribers on the 100 Mbps plan about 39%, and subscribers on the 50 Mbps plan received just under 60% of the promised speed. So in the best case scenario, customers were getting just over half of what was promised, with the vast majority getting well under 50%.

Schneiderman’s suit also claims Spectrum purposely refused to upgrade their equipment so they could negotiate higher fees from providers like Netflix. When companies paid Spectrum’s fees, service to those providers got better.

Perhaps the most damming evidence though, comes from a program the FCC has to monitor internet speeds. Hardware installed in Spectrum homes used online services to keep tabs internet quality. When some of those test cast a negative light on Spectrum, the company boosted only those customer’s connections to make the report look better.

Charter had little to say on the issue, simply saying they made “significant commitments to New York State as part of our merger with Time Warner Cable in areas of network investment, broadband deployment and offerings, customer service, and jobs.”