Senators praise FCC rural call completion effort

By Agri-Pulse staff

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WASHINGTON, Sept. 18, 2013 - Sens. Tim Johnson, D-S.D., Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and Deb Fischer, R-Neb., said that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Acting Chairwoman Clyburn's decision to take action to address rural call completion problems is good news for rural economies. Yesterday, Clyburn circulated an Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to be reviewed by the other members of the commission, which aims to improve the agency's ability to investigate call completion problems and take immediate steps to improve performance of long distance calls. This action comes after the Senators introduced a bipartisan resolution calling for the agency to take action.

“I see this announcement as a positive step forward and hope it will give the Commission additional tools to stop the bad actors failing to complete calls to rural areas,” said Johnson. “These problems have gone on for far too long, and those breaking the rules need to be held accountable. I will keep putting pressure on the Commission to take swift and decisive action that will restore quality and reliable telephone service in rural America.”

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This summer, Johnson, Klobuchar, and Fischer introduced and passed a resolution through the Senate Commerce Committee urging the FCC to take further action to solve the problems with completion of calls in rural areas. Johnson has worked to raise awareness about the seriousness of the call completion problems in rural America and has helped spearhead efforts to get these issues addressed. In December 2012, Johnson and 35 other Senators sent a letter to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski that urged the agency to monitor the practice of least cost routing and expedite its investigation by requiring providers to collect and retain data that would allow the FCC to determine if providers are failing to properly complete calls to rural areas. This helped lead to the release of a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) that proposed new steps to strengthen the FCC's investigation of those providing discriminatory telephone service to rural customers.  The recent Order that was circulated would finalize some of the proposals from the NPRM.  Earlier this year, the FCC reached a settlement with phone carrier Level 3 Communications that will require the company to meet vigorous, verifiable call completion standards, provide extensive records to assist FCC enforcement, as well as make a $975,000 voluntary contribution to the U.S. Treasury.

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