FCC approves rule to address rural call problems

By Agri-Pulse staff

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.



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WASHINGTON, Oct. 28, 2013-- The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) unanimously adopted a rule to address rural call completion problems at a meeting today.

Senators Tim Johnson, D-S.D., Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and Deb Fischer, R-Neb., issued a statement of support for the Report and Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (FNPRM).

The new rules approved today will improve the agency's ability to investigate call completion problems and take steps to improve performance of long distance calls. According to the announcement, it also prohibits the practice of “false ringing” when an audible ring is transmitted to the caller's handset before the call has reached the terminating network. 

“This is a positive step forward, and I hope it will give the Commission additional tools to stop the bad actors failing to complete calls to rural areas,” said Johnson. “When calls fail to complete, it hurts rural small businesses and creates a serious public safety concern. These problems have gone on for far too long, and those breaking the rules need to be held accountable.”   

The Rural Broadband Association CEO Shirley Bloomfield said her organization first brought the occurrence of rural call failures to the FCC's attention three years ago.

“We are grateful to Chairwoman Clyburn for making resolution of this epidemic a priority during her tenure, to Commissioners Pai and Rosenworcel for pressing for common-sense and effective solutions, and to the agency's staff for their hard work in seeking answers to these issues,” she said, noting
there is still much work to be done to ensure that no consumer will be cut off from critical communications.”

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She said she hopes the order will help minimize consumer confusion by “precluding false ringing, provide immediate incentives for providers to better manage completion of their calls, give the FCC a useful tool in identifying bad actors for enforcement, and serve as a springboard for further conversations about what else remains to be done to achieve truly universal and seamless connectivity.”

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