Call completion problems appear to be occurring in rural areas where long distance or wireless carriers normally pay higher-than-average charges to the local telephone company to complete calls. In order for a long distance or wireless carrier to complete one of its subscriber’s calls to a resident of a rural area, the carrier must get the call to the exchange serving that resident (the local phone company), and then pay a charge to that local carrier to access its exchange. The physical process of getting the call to the exchange is called “routing,” and the charge paid by the long distance company to the local carrier is called an “access charge.” These charges are part of the decades-old system of “access charges” that help pay for the cost of rural networks. To minimize these charges, some long-distance and wireless carriers contract with third-party “least-cost routing” service providers to connect calls to their destination at the lowest cost possible. Although many of these contracts include strictly-defined performance parameters, it appears that all too frequently those performance levels are not being met or, indeed, some calls are not even connecting at all.
The FCC is addressing call completion and call quality problems affecting long distance, wireless, and VoIP calls to rural telephone customers on multiple fronts. In 2018, Congress passed the Improving Rural Call Quality and Reliability Act of 2017, the RCC Act. The RCC Act requires intermediate providers—companies assisting originating phone providers to route phone calls—to register with the FCC and to comply with service quality standards that the FCC is directed to establish. The RCC Act also prohibits most long-distance and wireless providers from using an intermediate provider that is not registered with the FCC. In April 2018, the FCC adopted a Second Report and Order and Third Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to seek comment on implementing the new law. In addition, this Second Report and Order required most long-distance carriers to monitor and promptly remedy call completion issues. The Second Report and Order also requires long-distance carriers publish on their websites point(s) of contact information for rural call completion issues—an in-house technical expert(s) equipped to remedy rural call completion issues.
What Can You Do?
AP&T telephone service subscribers should urge the long distance or wireless callers having Call Completion issues to provide the details of the problem to their service provider. Typically the trouble support contact details are available on the service providers website or even on the monthly bill. The service provider of the caller having the completion issue should track down and remedy the issue for their customer.
If the call completion problems persist and are originating from the US, please consider making a complaint to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) directly.
Of course, the AP&T team can steer you in the right direction as well if you feel that a long distance or wireless caller is having trouble reaching you, please be capable of providing us with the calling and called telephone numbers in conjunction with the date and time that the call(s) were attempted. Please feel free to contact us directly at any of our local offices or via the Feedback Form on this website.