CHARLESTON — West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey is part of a coalition of officials from 34 states and the District of Columbia urging the Federal Communications Commission to affirm the longstanding shared role of states in regulation and enforcement of broadband business practices.
The bipartisan group argues a petition by internet providers is an industry attempt at shielding itself from state law enforcement, including that of a state consumer protection law key to West Virginia’s $160 million settlement with Frontier Communications.
State attorneys general play a crucial role in protecting consumers against unfair and deceptive business practices. That includes ensuing broadband providers and every business remains truthful in their advertisements.
“Our settlement with Frontier is improving broadband speeds across West Virginia,” Morrisey said. “We must preserve our authority to conduct similar investigations. This is crucial to our ability to mediate complaints and ensure that consumers receive the goods and services they are promised.”
The coalition urges the FCC to resist any disruption of the states’ authority to protect consumers from false and misleading claims. Its filing contends broadband access is essential to work, life and play for consumers in 21st century life.
A recent Frontier settlement in West Virginia represents the largest, independently negotiated consumer protection settlement in state history. The company declined any wrongdoing and entered into the settlement to resolve disputed complaints about internet speeds provided to its customers.
The December 2015 settlement required Frontier to lower monthly rates for affected consumers and invest at least $150 million in capital expenditures to increase internet speeds across West Virginia.
To date, Frontier has increased internet speeds for approximately 36 percent of customers impacted by the three-year settlement.
West Virginia joined the Texas- and New York-led comment submission with attorneys general from Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Vermont, Washington and Wisconsin.