New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman is suing Charter Communications and subsidiary Time Warner Cable for knowingly misleading New York residents by promising unattainable internet services. Schneiderman is seeking damages upwards of hundreds of millions of dollars for Time Warner’s misdeeds.
Internet speeds for those subscribed to the company’s premium plan (100, 200, and 300 Mbps) were 70 percent slower than promised, Schneiderman found in a 16-month investigation of Time Warner. Wireless internet speeds were much lower, too. Those paying up to $109.99 per month for premium internet were reportedly unable to even reach speeds promised in less expensive plans.
Streaming service Netflix and Riot Games’ League of Legends are both named as products dramatically affected by Time Warner’s alleged fraudulent internet speeds.
“The allegations in today’s lawsuit confirm what millions of New Yorkers have long suspected—Spectrum-Time Warner is ripping you off,” Schneiderman said in a statement. “Today’s action seeks to bring much-needed relief to the millions of New Yorkers we allege have been getting cheated by Spectrum-Time Warner Cable for far too long. Even now, Spectrum-Time Warner Cable continues to offer internet speeds that we found they cannot reliably deliver.”
Time Warner allegedly was aware of—and created—bottlenecks that disrupted and slowed down internet services to those playing games like League of Legends or streaming Netflix. Because Time Warner was one of the few service providers for many customers, it had power in leveraging internet content creators, Riot Games and Netflix, to remove bottlenecking. Riot and Netflix both eventually agreed to pay the company to give customers access to better internet speeds. Access to these services are what customers expect. Schneiderman alleged that Time Warner knew that and was exploiting its power in that manner.
Limited service providers in the New York area allowed Time Warner to operate with lower-than-promised internet speeds—there were just a few other options for customers to switch to. Time Warner’s May 2016 merger with Charter Communications complicated the lawsuit—for Charter, it’s a matter of the past.
“We are disappointed that the New York Attorney General chose to file this lawsuit regarding Time Warner Cable’s broadband speed advertisements that occurred prior to Charter’s merger,” a spokesperson for Charter Communications told NY Mag. “Charter made significant commitments to New York State as part of our merger with Time Warner Cable in areas of network investment, broadband deployment and offerings, customer service, and jobs.”
Now, Charter is faced with upgrading Time Warner’s infrastructure—and that’s something that won’t be immediate. As NY Mag points out, the lawsuit’s relevant period is from a time where Time Warner was the only option for many: That could be different now. And if it is, you can always change providers. But then you can’t blame Time Warner for being stuck in League of Legends’ Bronze tier.