Cable companies want to stop states from investigating their internet speeds

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is cracking down on internet service providers who deliver slower internet speeds than promised—and the cable companies aren’t happy about it.

Earlier this year, the New York Attorney General filed an 82-page lawsuit against Charter (formerly Time Warner Cable) for defrauding New Yorkers by falsely promising speeds that it knew it could not deliver. His office continued to solicit the public to submit data about their broadband speeds at home, so they can investigate if other companies aren’t delivering on their internet speed promises.

In response, the cable companies want to stop individual states from investigating the internet speed claims made by internet service providers, citing the FCC’s net neutrality rules—the very rules that those same cable companies want abolished.

As part of the FCC’s net neutrality rules, the FCC requires that internet service providers disclose their average downstream and upstream speeds during the period of peak demand. Last month, two telecom lobbying groups petitioned the FCC for a declaratory ruling that states cannot take action under the states’ consumer protection laws if the internet service provider meets the FCC’s own disclosure rules. Under the FCC’s standards, the internet service providers can advertise “average” speeds—even if specific customers cannot actually obtain those speeds.

Thirty-five state attorneys general have opposed the cable lobby’s petition, saying that disclosures required under federal law do not alter companies’ obligations under state law.

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