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FCC announces fourth major call completion enforcement action

01.28.15 – The FCC recently announced it has entered into a consent decree with Verizon, settling an Enforcement Bureau inquiry into the company’s failure to investigate whether rural customers could receive long distance or wireless calls to landline phones. As part of the settlement, Verizon agreed to pay a $2 million fine and implement a compliance plan in which it commits to spend an additional $3 million over the next three years to improve call completion to rural areas across the country. Verizon also agreed to:

  • Appoint an ombudsman to centralize analysis of rural call completion problems;

  • Develop a system to automatically identify customer complaints that may be related to rural call completion issues;

  • Limit its use of intermediate providers – often the source of call completion problems – between the Verizon network and the local rural provider;

  • Monitor its call answer rates to individual rural areas and conduct an investigation when rates to an area fall below a set threshold in any month;

  • 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; and prepare a report to be publicly filed with the FCC at the end of the three-year compliance period. 

This is the fourth major resolution of a rural call completion investigation and is part of a coordinated effort to address rural call completion problems. Over the past two years, the Bureau has entered into consent decrees related to rural call completion performance with Matrix Telecom, Inc., Windstream Corporation, and Level 3 Communications.