The consumers alleged that the telecom promised "lightning fast" speeds of at least 384 kbps and up to 1.5 Mpbs, but delivered far slower connections due to "purposeful limitation or 'capping' of the lines," "the inadequacy of the lines," and "the poor condition of the lines."
AT&T allegedly "intentionally capped access to newsgroups and email for all of their customers," the lawsuit alleges. The consumers also alleged that attempts to remedy the situation by changing providers were met with hefty termination fees.
The judge in the case, Judge Gary M. Gaertner, recently ruled that the case could proceed as a class-action. "There is evidence in the record supporting the claims of (the consumers)," he wrote. "Defendants concede there were DSL customers who were capped."
That decision is critical because individual consumers who wanted to sue almost certainly would have found the cost of litigation prohibitively expensive. AT&T reportedly is planning to appeal.
Of course, the allegations in this one lawsuit concern just one small piece of the overall broadband picture -- a picture that remains fairly unimpressive in the U.S., according to a new report by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.
The U.S. ranks 15th for broadband penetration among the 30 countries surveyed by the OECD, with rates hovering at around 27% as of June. Countries to rank higher include Denmark (37%), Korea (33%), and Canada (30%).