telephone_commonsThe FCC has underestimated what it will cost communications service providers to comply with rural call completion reporting requirements, says Comptel.

“The FCC has failed to provide any, much less specific and objective, support for its estimate of the burden of complying with the new data collection, retention and reporting obligations,” wrote the competitive carrier association in a filing with the Office of Management and Budget dated December 12. According to Comptel, the FCC’s estimate was that call completion reporting would entail industry-wide startup costs of $6.3 million, which was less than the estimates provided by some individual carriers just for themselves.

In the filing Comptel asks the OMB to direct the FCC to submit a revised estimate of call completion reporting requirements to the OMB before the OMB approves the FCC’s data collection plan.

If the OMB complies with Comptel’s request, it could delay implementation of call reporting requirements aimed at addressing ongoing problems with calls not being completed to rural areas.

Rural Call Completion Problems
For several years rural telecom service providers have complained that some originating long-distance carriers or third-party carriers that carry traffic for the originating carriers have deliberately failed to complete calls to rural areas. Those carriers are required to pay terminating access charges to the service provider serving the called party, and the charges tend to be higher in rural areas to help cover the higher cost of delivering service in those areas — which means originating and intermediate carriers have an incentive to avoid terminating calls to rural lines.

After earlier efforts to curb call completion problems were unsuccessful, the FCC in 2013 made the decision to require long-distance service providers to report rural call completion data.

After receiving industry input, the commission last month said it would relax some call completion reporting requirements and sent its revised plan to the OMB for approval.

Depending on the OMB’s response to Comptel’s filing, that approval process could take longer than anticipated and could trigger a revision of the FCC plan.

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