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Not happy with your Wi-Fi speeds in New York? Neither is the attorney general

New York sues Spectrum over Wi-Fi speed based on data from Netflix

Why it matters to you

Time Warner Cable, now known as Spectrum, has long been accused of underdelivering on its Wi-Fi speeds. Now, New York's attorney general is suing over those claims.

You can change names, but apparently, you can’t change problems. If you’re a New Yorker unhappy with the internet service provided by Charter Communications (which bought Time Warner Cable, rebranding the company as Spectrum), know that you’re not alone. Far from it, in fact. On Wednesday, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman filed a lawsuit accusing Spectrum of underdelivering when it comes to internet speeds for its customers.

According to a Reuters report, the lawsuit claims that Spectrum is “systematically defrauding and misleading internet service subscribers by promising service it knew it could not deliver.” The case has been filed in the State Supreme Court in Manhattan. Schneiderman first began a probe into the allegedly slow speeds in October.

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Considering that services affected by the slow speeds are crowd-pleasers like Netflix, Facebook, and gaming platforms, it’s no wonder that consumers and officials alike are none too pleased about Spectrum’s services. In fact, Schneiderman noted at a news conference that Spectrum’s Wi-Fi speeds were a full 80 percent slower than advertised. Speed test results suggested that 300Mbps plans were only delivering speeds of 85Mbps.

“Reliable internet service is not a luxury, it is a necessity,” said Schneiderman. The attorney also drew attention to an internal email in which Spectrum engineers noted that their modems were incapable of supporting speeds as advertised, but made no changes to their practices.

Schneiderman’s case hinges largely on data provided by Netflix and Riot Games. The attorney general noted that “[Spectrum] deliberately took advantage of its control over port capacity where its network connected to online content providers to extract more revenue for the company.” He continued, “To do so, [Spectrum] used its leverage over access to subscribers to extract fees from online content providers in exchange for granting such access.”

Specifically, the investigation found that when Netflix and Riot Games agreed to pay Spectrum more money, performance to the sites actually improved. Schneiderman concluded: “The allegations in today’s lawsuit confirm what millions of New Yorkers have long suspected — Spectrum-Time Warner Cable has been ripping you off.”

For its part, Charter has said that it is “disappointed” by the lawsuit because many of the accusations took place before the company acquired Time Warner Cable. “Charter has already made substantial investments in the interest of upgrading the Time Warner Cable systems and delivering the best possible experience to customers,” the company said.

Article updated to reflect evidence from Netflix and Riot Games.