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Judge Allows Class Action Against Internet Provider

(CN) - A federal judge in San Francisco refused to dismiss a class action accusing a California satellite Internet service provider of touting "super-fast" Internet access that turned out to be "slow and spotty."

The lead plaintiffs, representing about 80,000 California customers, claimed that "HughesNet customers consistently receive slow and spotty service that falls woefully short of the fanciful claims" outlined on the company's Web site and in advertisements.

HughesNet said its maximum download speed ranged from 1.0 megabits per second for residential service to 5 megabits per second for "ElitePremium Plan" subscribers.

But users said the "service during peak times generally performs at speeds lower even than what HughesNet states as 'typical' speeds."

They added that HughesNet charges "unconscionable" early cancellation fees of $400, in breach of its own subscriber agreement.

U.S. District Judge Samuel Conti ruled that California law should be applied to the case, as the class members would be unable to seek punitive damages under Maryland law.

Conti dismissed their claims regarding the early termination fees, as they failed to explain how the fees were "unconscionable," but found that the class has shown how they relied on Hughes' allegedly false promises of fast Internet.

Conti said the plaintiffs could amend their claims over the early termination fees.

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