Industry eagerly awaits call completion order
National industry effort moves forward
By Mark Novy, manager – Demand Assurance
Rural local exchange carriers recently had reason to be hopeful for meaningful regulatory action to improve rural call completion rates. On September 17, FCC acting Chairwoman Mignon Clyburn announced the circulation of an Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that “will enhance the FCC’s ability to investigate and crack down on this problem while also taking immediate steps that will improve the performance of long-distance calls to rural America.”
Two weeks after the acting Chairwoman’s announcement, these hopes were put on hold, as the federal government shut down on October 1, causing all but the most essential FCC functions to cease. With the government now open again, the FCC is expected to address the issue at its open meeting on October 28.
Indications from Washington suggest the Order would put into effect several of the measures from the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking released by the FCC last February. This would be a significant positive step forward for RLECs and their subscribers.
Joint call testing project
Meanwhile, a nationwide industry call testing effort is now underway. Months of careful planning have brought local, regional, and national telecommunications providers together for the Joint National Call Testing Project. The project is co-administered by NECA and the Alliance for Telecommunications Industry Solutions, and was developed by an industry task force including staff from rural association partners NTCA and WTA. NECA has been working with the associations for almost three years now to identify and resolve call completion issues.
The project, which opened its first round of testing on October 9, allows originating carriers to test the reliability of their networks and the networks of their underlying service providers on calls placed to Milliwatt test lines established by volunteer RLECs. This process allows originating providers to identify call completion problems in real time and troubleshoot those issues shortly thereafter.
The first round of testing runs through January 2014. During this time 18 originating carriers will document test calls placed to 524 Milliwatt test lines spread out over 35 states.
Test call results will not be used for regulatory or enforcement purposes. Rather, ATIS and NECA will use anonymous, aggregated results to educate the industry on how to better identify and resolve call completion problems. For more information, visit the JNCTP website.
Continue trouble reporting
We urge RLECs to continue reporting unresolved call completion issues to the FCC. RLECs are encouraged to follow the three-step process for responding to call completion complaints, outlined in the summer 2012 edition of Access. This process provides the best chance of a positive outcome and ensures continued reporting of unresolved complaints to the FCC.