Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Tim Johnson (D-SD) today applauded the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) announcement of steps it will take to fix the problem of dropped, incomplete and poor quality long-distance phone calls to rural America. Last month, Johnson rallied 23 Senators to join his efforts to push the FCC to address the problem, which has led to a 2,000 percent increase in complaints in recent years.
“I applaud the FCC for heeding our call to put in place concrete steps to fix this problem,” Johnson said. “When calls can’t get through, it is a public safety concern and an economic issue because businesses can’t afford to have unreliable communication. The FCC’s decision is a step in the right direction, and I will continue to monitor the situation until high-quality phone service is restored in South Dakota and across rural America.”
On Monday, the FCC released a ruling that reinforces existing call-blocking prohibitions and broadens the scope of unjust and unreasonable practices by carriers that will not be tolerated. The ruling states that carriers responsible for traffic routing problems are in violation of the law and degraded service quality to certain areas is strictly prohibited. The FCC warns carriers that its agency is authorized to issue significant penalties to entities failing to adhere to this ruling.
Nearly two thirds of households in the U.S. have landline phones. Johnson has heard from rural small businesses that rely on telephone service and cannot afford to lose business because of call disruption, especially in this difficult economic climate.
From April 2010 through March 2011, the number of complaints increased by 2,000 percent from individuals who experienced calls that fail to complete, are delayed, have poor voice quality, lack correct caller ID information, or where the originating carrier simply refuses to place calls to certain rural areas. This problem is affecting rural communities across the country and has been reported in 36 states.