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Arizona accuses rural internet provider of charging for speeds it didn’t deliver

(Photo by Julian Stratenschulte/picture alliance via Getty Images)

PHOENIX – Arizona is part of a multistate federal lawsuit that accuses a communications company that serves mostly rural areas of charging customers for internet speeds they weren’t actually getting.

Indiana, Michigan, North Carolina, Wisconsin, California and the Federal Trade Commission are also part of the complaint filed Wednesday against Frontier Communications.

Arizona, represented by state Attorney General Mark Brnovich in the suit, is seeking reimbursement to customers who may have been overcharged as well as civil penalties against Frontier of up to $10,000 for each willful violation.

The state alleges that the Connecticut-based company didn’t or couldn’t provide the higher speeds in certain premium plans that it advertised and sold.

According to Frontier’s website, the company’s service is available in fewer than 20 Arizona communities, with Bullhead City, Kingman, Lake Havasu City and several Native American tribal towns on the list.

Frontier said the lawsuit is without merit and it will defend itself. The company said its internet speeds “have been clearly and accurately articulated, defined and described in the company’s marketing materials and disclosures.”

The FTC’s complaint noted that Frontier has settled with West Virginia, New York, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Washington, and Minnesota since 2015 in cases claiming the company was misrepresenting its internet speeds. It has denied wrongdoing.

In the new lawsuit, the FTC said thousands of customers have complained that they couldn’t use Frontier’s service for the online activities they should have been able to.

The complaint concerns what’s called DSL internet, an older type of network that’s sent over copper telephone wires. Phone and cable companies today build networks which can handle much faster speeds.

The FTC says Frontier provides DSL service to 1.3 million customers in 25 states, mostly in rural areas. The company has about 3 million internet customers overall.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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