Verizon is the latest telco to agree to a settlement with the FCC to resolve a rural call completion investigation. The company has agreed to pay a fine of two million dollars and to implement a compliance plan to which it has committed an additional three million dollars, the FCC said.
The Verizon rural call completion settlement is notable in that the company is an incumbent carrier that was deemed deficient in its handling of calls in its role as a retail provider. The FCC said the company failed to investigate evidence of low call answer rates to 26 different rural areas. In other words, Verizon may not deliberately have avoided completing calls to rural areas but nevertheless was expected to determine whether an intermediate carrier might be at fault.
Previous rural call completion settlements primarily involved competitive carriers such as Matrix Telecom and Level 3, often in their role as intermediate carriers hired by a retail provider to complete calls.
Although Windstream also agreed previously to a settlement, the company largely inherited the problems when it purchased competitive carrier Paetec.
The Rural Call Completion Problem
Rural telecom service providers have complained for several years that some other carriers appear to be deliberately failing to complete calls to the rural carriers’ customers as a means of avoiding the payment of per-minute call termination fees to the rural carriers. Those fees tend to be higher in rural areas to cover some of the costs of providing service, which tend to be higher in those areas.
Even after the FCC ruled that carriers were required to complete calls and established fines for non-compliance the problem continued. Today’s action, coming on top of previous settlements, illustrates that the FCC hasn’t given up on the issue and in fact is willing to escalate enforcement activity.
Verizon Rural Call Completion Settlement
Verizon’s settlement included provisions similar to those involved with previous settlements, along with some new ones:
- Appointing a rural call completion ombudsman with the company to centralize analysis of rural call completion problems
- Developing a system to automatically identify customer complaints that may be related to rural call completion issues
- Limit the use of intermediate providers
- Monitor call answer rates to individual rural areas and conduct an investigation when rates to an area fall below an established threshold
- Host industry workshops and sponsor an academic study on methods to detect and resolve rural call completion problems
- Provide quarterly summaries of its investigations to the FCC and meet periodically with commission staff to identify lessons learned
- Prepare a report to be publicly filed with the commission at the end of the three-year compliance period
5 thoughts on “Verizon Rural Call Completion Settlement Totals $5 Million”
$2 million? They save more than that every month by doing these practices. FCC – put some teeth in these fines!
I am on the phone with Verizon right now… They are STILL to this second only terminating about 30% of the calls into our rural exchange. I have called them everyday for a month to get it resolved. Half of the failed calls into our exchange go directly to some music then your hung up on after 30 seconds. They tell me they can not reproduce the errors. UMMM CAN YOU LOOK AT MY CDRS?? Look at my calls and you can tell where you route them… Them seem to know that their is a problem and will admit their is a problem… They just will not fix the problem!!
@Chris: How are you certain that the caller to your exchange is using Verizon as a long-distance provider?
The person making the call is the one that controls it. SO, Chris' provider is controlling that call. That's how he's certain Verizon is the long distance provider!
@Guest: I understand Chris to be working for an RLEC and complaining that his customers aren't receiving calls from others on the PSTN. When you're receiving incoming toll you don't actually control how the call is routed to you. Chris probably has good reason to suspect that some of the calls that his customers aren't receiving are originated by Verizon (the IXC), but it's really Verizon's long-distance customers that need to complain to Verizon long-distance that they can't call people in Chris' exchange.