Consumers Fight-Back Against Slow Internet Service, Limited Bandwidth, and Egregious Customer Fees — Comcast, HughesNet and Qwest

This past year has been a “bellwether” year for consumer advocacy groups with respect to reform and Internet Service Providers (“ISPs”).

First, as PBM highlighted back in August of this year, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) issued a monumental decision, ordering Comcast to “end discriminatory network management practices.”

Specifically, the FCC determined that Comcast had in fact “unduly interfered with Internet users’ right to access the lawful Internet content and to use the applications of their choice … [by deploying] equipment throughout its network to monitor the content of its customers’ Internet connections and selectively block specific types of connections.”

The FCC is now requiring that Comcast disclose the details of its discriminatory network management practices to the Commission, submit a compliance plan describing how it intends to stop these discriminatory management practices by the end of the year, and disclose to customers and the Commission the network management practices that will replace current practices.

Second, on September 22, 2008, PBM filed a class action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Pennsylvania, on behalf of consumers against satellite broadband company, Hughes Communications, Inc. and HughesNetwork Systems, LLC, alleging breach of contract and frauduluent business practices involving the marketing of the HughesNet® Satellite Broadband Network System. Specifically, it is alleged that the satellite broadband Company’s nationwide advertisement of “Highspeed Internet by Satellite: Wherever Whenever” was materially false and misleading. Although the class action is still in its early stages, it is anticipated that such class may eventually involve thousands of HughesNet users.

Last, and most recent, another class action lawsuit was filed on behalf of consumers in the U.S. District Court, Western District of Washington, against Qwest, involving Early Termination Fees (“ETFs”) for Internet Service. The lawsuit alleges that Qwest was involved in abusive practices in the administration, processing, and collection of ETFs. It is anticipated that thousands of Qwest subscribers were unlawfully charged an ETF for cancellation of their Internet Service before the end of an alleged term.

If you or someone you know is a current or former subscriber to an Internet Service Provider (ISP), and have experienced similar Internet broadband related issues with respect to speed, accessibility, and/or connectivity please contact our law-firm for a free consultation.