Connecticut Attorney General William Tong has launched an investigation into Optimum Altice for alleged misrepresentation of its Internet services.
Monday’s announcement comes after his office received nearly 500 consumer complaints about slow internet and hidden charges dating back to 2017.
“The overwhelming number of complaints are from consumers who did not receive advertised speeds for Optimum 300 megabits per second and Optimum 400 megabits per second cable Internet plans that they paid for,” Tong said.
He said these problems peaked during the COVID-19 pandemic, a time when internet access was vital to daily life.
“The internet is so important to us in every aspect of our lives now,” Tong said. “And people have been able to prove to themselves and to us that they’ve paid for 300 or 400 megabits per second and they’re not getting it.”
Several customers have found that they are not getting the internet speed they paid for after running speed tests. A customer with a compromised immune system reported that her internet connection was running at just 16 megabits per second, far below the internet speed they had paid for.
Consumers said they were also charged for support services despite their internet problems not being resolved. This investigation will also determine whether Optimum Altice knowingly charged customers hidden additional fees and addressed their poor technical support.
“Altice shares the state’s goal of providing Connecticut residents and businesses with high quality service and a positive customer experience. This is why Altice has invested throughout Connecticut, building and deploying a 100% Optimum Fiber broadband network that provides reliable infrastructure and symmetrical Internet services to our communities and our customers,” said a spokesperson. of Optimum Altice in a note.
The company said Connecticut was one of the first areas to roll out multi-gigabit speeds earlier this year to meet customers’ broadband needs. It also offers the Affordable Connectivity Program, which provides free high-speed Internet service.
“We are proud to serve our Connecticut communities and will work with state officials to provide relevant information,” the spokesperson said.
The Internet and cable provider has been investigated for similar issues in other states. In 2021, New Jersey launched its own investigation into Optimum Altice’s poor internet quality after receiving hundreds of complaints since 2016. The Asbury Park Press reports that internet services would go down for hours in the state and internet speeds would fluctuate constantly. Altice said these issues were due to a 40% increase in average data usage as work and schools went virtual during the peak of the pandemic.
Marilyn Davis, senior director of government affairs at Altice USA, told the Asbury Park Press that, “As a result of the pandemic and other events, 2020 presented unique and unprecedented challenges for Altice, as well as other companies and individuals across the nation. However, New Jersey officials have found that these Internet service problems occurred even before the pandemic began.
Tong predicts the investigation could lead to a settlement. Connecticut received $60 million in payments from Frontier Communications earlier this year. Frontier failed to deliver the advertised Internet speed, charged hidden extra fees, and charged customers for equipment they’d already returned or services they’d canceled.