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FCC aims to improve completion rate of long-distance calls to rural areas

Fri, 02/08/2013 - 11:35am
Andrew Berg, Wireless Week

The FCC Thursday issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM), which seeks comment on rules to help address problems in the completion of long-distance telephone calls to rural customers.

The NPRM is specifcally aimed at intermediate carries that complete long-distance calls for long-distance providers, such as wireless providers, cable companies, interexchange carriers (IXCs), local exchange carriers (LECs) and providers of VoIP services.

The FCC contended that some of these intermediate providers offering wholesale call delivery services "may be failing to deliver a significant number of calls to rural telephone company customers," noting that "evidence indicates that the retail long-distance providers may not be adequately examining the resultant rural call completion performance."

The FCC will consider measures to improve the Commission’s ability to monitor the delivery of long-distance calls to rural areas and aid enforcement action in connection with providers’ call-completion practices as necessary. The Commission is also seeking opinons on how to minimize the burden of compliance with these proposed rules, particularly for originating providers whose call-routing practices do not appear to cause significant call-completion problems.

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said the Commission has continually receieved complaints about rural call completion issues.

"In too many towns across the country, the basic ability of all Americans to reliably receive phone calls - a bedrock of America’s communication policy - has come into doubt," Genchowski said. "This has got to stop. The FCC has a fundamental responsibility to ensure phone calls complete reliably."

Genachowski said the Commission had "no illusions" that the new proposals in the NPRM may impose "meaningful new burdens" on some carriers.

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