LEGAL
Appeals court revives ATM-fee lawsuit

A federal appeals court has revived a lawsuit accusing MasterCard, Visa and three major banks of illegally fixing ATM prices at the expense of consumers.

The federal appeals court in Washington ruled Tuesday that a group of consumers and independent ATM operators could pursue antitrust claims against the companies.

A federal district judge had thrown out the lawsuit in 2013 after finding that the plaintiffs failed to show conspiracy to overcharge consumers. But the appeals court said challengers could argue that the payment processors coordinated with Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo to adopt anticompetitive fees.

The lawsuit claims that the companies impose contract terms preventing independent ATM operators from charging less when consumers use debit cards that can tap cheaper processing networks.

— Associated Press

INTERNET
Comcast expanding low-cost program

Comcast is rolling out upgrades to its Internet program for low-income consumers, doubling download speeds and, for the first time, targeting senior citizens under a Florida-based pilot project.

The $10-a-month program, Internet Essentials, will be getting a free speed bump from 5 megabits per second to 10 Mbps, which is fast enough to support multiple video streams simultaneously.

Comcast also is expanding access to Internet Essentials. To be eligible for the program, households need to have a child who qualifies for free or reduced-price school lunches, or who attends a school where 50 percent of the students qualified for meal subsidies. Previously that threshold was 70 percent.

Comcast’s pilot project in West Palm Beach will also give older Americans — who, according to the Pew Research Center, remain disproportionately unconnected from the Web — access to Internet Essentials.

About 500,000 households have signed up for the program, up from 350,000 a year ago.

— Brian Fung

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