Bob Duff

Senate Majority Leader

Bob Duff

Standing Up For You!

June 28, 2021

Altice To Drastically Reduce Internet Upload Speeds In July, Drawing Ire Of State Officials

Senate Majority Leader, Chairs of Energy and Technology Committee Blast Decision To Cut Internet Upload Speeds By Up To 86%

Altice, the primary internet provider for many Connecticut communities, will reduce its Optimum Online broadband internet plans that currently advertise upload speeds of 35 Mbps to speeds ranging from 5 to 20 Mbps on July 12, with no concurrent change in the prices of those plans; however, new customers will be forced to accept lower upload speeds, while existing customers will be forced into the lower speeds should they upgrade, downgrade, or change service.

State officials including Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff (D-Norwalk), whose district is primarily served by Altice; State Senator Norm Needleman (D-Essex) and State Representative David Arconti (D-Danbury), Senate and House Chairs of the Energy & Technology Committee; State Senator James Maroney (D-Milford) and State Broadband Policy Coordinator in the Office of Consumer Counsel Burt Cohen today blasted the decision to restrict users’ upload speeds for several reasons, including the increased need for fast, effective Internet service for customers as life goes increasingly digital, for uploads as well as downloads, and that Altice itself announced the decision was not made due to any trouble with its current service but to bring its speeds “in line with other ISPs,” meaning it plans to reduce service quality rather than tout increased speeds as an advantage over other providers.

Compounding the issue: in several regions of Connecticut, Altice is a primary internet provider, for some customers being the only viable internet service available. This move could directly negatively impact those customers. The speed reductions will also impact every internet plan offered by Altice, a sign the company intends to make this reduction in service a future selling point in advertising its more expensive plans.

“Altice’s decision to reduce the upload speeds of its internet service plans is one directly harmful to many customers,” said Sen. Duff. “It’s easy to imagine a family where one member is on a video chat with Grandma, another is having a Zoom with work colleagues on an important project and one of the kids is playing video games online with their friends. This planned reduction in upload speed could easily leave all three of them unable to access the speed and data, forcing the family to upgrade to a more expensive plan or requiring them to choose who gets to be online at one time. All for a future marketing gimmick. When six currently available plans have the same internet upload speed right now, yet in three weeks they will all feature vastly different and reduced service quality, that’s a major sign that this move is consumer-unfriendly and will have serious drawbacks. All this, and the move is not even necessary for them to preserve current services!”

“In the pandemic, as work and school shifted online, internet service became vital for many. That includes through video calls and conferencing, through data connections and information transfers, and other direct lines of digital communication requiring speedy upload abilities,” said Sen. Needleman. “Though the worst impacts of the pandemic have abated, customers still need consistent, reliable internet service. This move may rob them of that. Not only will the ‘Optimum Online’ plan see its upload speeds reduced by a factor of seven, but all internet plans offered by Altice will see similar reductions in quality – making things worse, all of those plans had comparable upload speeds before this change. In the name of a cheap marketing move and to draw customers to more expensive plans, Altice is gutting the resources they currently pay for. This is an awful decision that will harm customers for no good reason beyond corporate greed.”

“At a time when internet access is critical for families, students, professionals, businesses and even healthcare, Altice’s decision to reduce speed, rather than upgrade it, is not a good move,” said Rep. Arconti. “It is disappointing to hear that they are thinking about squeezing customers for more money, instead of improving services.”

“When countless Altice customers have likely spent years on the same internet plan, paying their bills on time with no issues in the past, it’s a direct insult for Altice to in turn slash what those plans offer,” said Sen. Maroney. “It’s unfair and disrespectful to their customers, and it’s the antithesis of competition. Altice’s stated reason for reducing these internet upload speeds is to match the slower speeds currently offered by their competitors. One would think a better marketing plan for Altice would be to advertise that its services are better than the competition, rather than for it to cut its quality of service to trick customers into paying more for worse standards.”

“Altice states that its 86% reduction of upload speed for Optimum Online service when residential consumers are still struggling with the effects of a pandemic is not due to any technical network limitations. If that representation is truthful, Altice appears to be implementing a cynical marketing ploy to force consumers to upgrade to more expensive tiers of Optimum internet service in order to manage working from home, engaging in telehealth appointments, and other essential online services,” said Cohen. “It’s difficult to conceive of a more anti-consumer move during a time when we all need robust internet service, which includes better upload speeds.”