Call Completion Issues Discussed at FCC Meeting
There is a nationwide and industry-wide epidemic going on that directly and adversely affects consumers — problems with the transmission and completion of calls placed to customers served by rural local exchange carriers (RLECs). A survey of National Telecommunications Cooperative Association (NTCA) members showed that 80 percent of rural carriers reported termination problems.
Representatives of rural telco groups including the National Telecommunications Cooperative Association (NTCA), the Organization for the Promotion and Advancement of Small Telecommunications Companies (OPASTCO), the National Exchange Carrier Association (NECA) and the Western Telecommunications Alliance (WTA) recently met with FCC staff to discuss these issues. Their concerns include:
- Calls that ring for the calling party, but not at all or on a delayed basis for the customer of the rural carrier.
- Calling parties who receive incorrect or misleading message interceptions before the call reaches the rural LEC or the tandem switch through which the rural LEC receives traffic.
- Calls that appear to loop between routing providers but never reach the rural carrier or its serving tandem.
- Incorrect caller ID that displays to called parties.
The rural representatives explained how difficult it is to identify such problems when they occur because they start with the calling party and the called party might not be aware of missed calls. It is difficult to locate and resolve the source of the issue, even once identified, because there are a variety of platforms on which the troubles arise and a number of logistical and operational barriers to troubleshooting problems on other carriers’ networks.
Fact-finding efforts indicate that the problems appear to arise from how originating carriers choose to set up the signaling and routing of their calls. Are other carriers deliberately blocking calls? Considering the controversy regarding access fees charged to complete calls on local telephone networks — some of which are relatively high for rural markets — it’s possible that some carriers might attempt to avoid paying those charges by failing to complete calls to those rural markets.
This issue threatens public safety and homeland security as well as degrades the integrity and reliability of the nation’s telecommunications network. Alpine Communications is actively participating in industry efforts to stop these problems and will keep you informed of developments. If you have questions or want to report an incident, please call us at (563) 245-4000.