Calls not coming through from out of state? Have you recently experienced any of the following:
1. Someone from a big city or out-of-state tells you they tried to call you but the call didn’t get through, or the call rang on their end but your phone did not ring?
2. A call came through to you but the quality was poor?
3. A call came through but the caller ID was incorrect?
Direct Communications strives to provide excellent service at all times, and we only install absolutely the most modern, state-of-the-art, telephone switching equipment available anywhere in the world. However, people who live in rural areas all around the country are reporting that calls to them are not getting through, or they are getting calls with poor quality. For example, when family from out of state tries to call you, they might be telling you they can’t get through to you or that their phone is giving them an error message.
The growing problem, as explained by the Foundation for Rural Service, lies “with the carrier used by the customer who makes the call, not your rural local telecommunications provider. The problem can only be resolved by the carrier used by the customer who makes the call. This nationwide epidemic is negatively affecting local businesses, public safety, and our relationship with our customers. Rural carriers have complained to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and state agencies. The FCC has created a task force to investigate and address the issue and rural telco advocates are encouraging swift and severe action against all of the providers at the center of the problem.”
-FRS, Calls Not Getting Through?
The FCC has recognized this problem and clearly identified large national carriers who are using below-standard, cheap long distance companies to save money, who don’t want to pay the costs to connect calls to rural areas, simply because it costs more money to connect the call to remote areas. So, instead of terminating the call, they just drop it. Basically, they are discriminating against rural areas. The FCC put it very diplomatically when they recently stated on their website:
“The issue is complicated, but in a nutshell, the problem appears to be occurring in rural areas where long distance carriers normally pay higher-than-average charges to the local telephone company to complete calls. These charges are part of the decades-old system of “access” charges that help pay for the cost of rural networks. To minimize these charges, some long-distance carriers use third-party “least-cost routers,” which attempt to connect calls to their destination at the lowest cost possible. Sometimes, however, the calls appear not to be connecting at all.”
On Feb 6, 2012, the FCC released a new ruling to address this problem, stating that:
“Carriers that deliberately fail to complete calls to rural areas could face cease and desist orders, forfeiture, license revocations and fines of up to $1.5 million.” The ruling is an important victory for rural telcos, who have seen a sharp increase in complaints from customers saying callers have not been able to reach them.
“These problems can have dire consequences,” the FCC wrote in the ruling. “Small businesses can lose customers who get frustrated when their calls don’t go through. Urgent long distance calls from friends of family can be missed. Schools may be unable to reach parents with critical alerts, including school closings due to extreme weather. And those in need of help may be unable to reach public safety officials.”
The FCC’s nine-page ruling references a variety of ways that failure to complete calls to another carrier violates existing statutes. The commission also said originating carriers could be liable for actions taken by least cost routers – other carriers who terminate calls for them.
“If carriers continue to hand off calls to agents, intermediate providers or others that a carrier knows are not completing a reasonable percentage of calls, or are otherwise restricting traffic, that is an unjust or unreasonable practice prohibited by section 201 of the [Telecommunications] Act,” the FCC said.
What can you do about it?
We as a rural telecom industry will continue to press the FCC to act against the large nationwide providers involved in these issues. You can help too by doing the following:
- Ask for the name of the long-distance carrier used by the person trying to reach you. Call us, your local provider, and give us details so that we can report the offending long distance companies. Include the name of the carrier used by the caller so that we can contact the carrier on your behalf to try and resolve the issue.
- Go to http://www.fcc.gov/complaints to file an informal wired telephone service complaint with the FCC against the carrier used by the person trying to call you (not your local service provider), and encourage the caller to do the same.
- Contact your Congressman and tell them to stop the discrimination against rural areas by the big carriers.
- Tell the person trying to reach you to report the problem to their long distance carrier.