State reaches $600,000 settlement with rural Internet provider - CBS46 News

State reaches $600,000 settlement with rural Internet provider

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The Governor's Office of Consumer Protection announced Monday they reached a settlement with internet provider Windstream Communications following a two-year investigation into allegations the company made false advertising claims.

The Office of Consumer Protection said the case should send a clear message to other companies that advertise to large customer bases.

"Be careful what you're saying, be sure what you're saying is accurate and that you can back it up," said administrator John Sours. "You need to be accountable for what you tell people you're going to do."

Sours said the company, which has a virtual monopoly over rural internet customers in Georgia, was promising and charging for internet speeds it often did not deliver. After two years of investigations and hundreds of interviews, Sours said Windstream wrote a check to the state for $600,000, and the matter was settled.

"Windstream ... has cooperated fully throughout the inquiry by the Governor's Office of Consumer Protection," wrote a company spokesperson in a statement. "Windstream is pleased to resolve this inquiry by entering an assurance of voluntary compliance with all applicable advertising laws. That agreement includes no finding or admission of violation by the company."

The company will pay $350,000 in civil penalties, administrative fees and expenses. They will also pay $250,000 in restitution, to be used for the purchase of new computer equipment for the Technical College System of Georgia.

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