Arvig is working with federal regulators to address the issue of long-distance telephone calls not completing to customers in the communities it serves. Arvig officials say these “dropped calls” are happening all over the nation, and rural telephone companies like Arvig are not at fault.
When a call is placed to a rural telephone number, somewhere before the call even reaches the local network, it is dropped by a long distance carrier.
“Basically, the carriers don’t like the rates to connect to rural areas, and they do whatever they can to keep their costs down,” said Andy Klinnert, director of Network Operations at Arvig. “But rural routes have always been more costly because of rates that were established when the distances to the subscriber were more of a factor.”
In 2012, U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and 35 other senators wrote to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) requesting immediate resolution of dropped calls and poor service affecting their rural constituents, noting the serious economic consequences.
“[S]mall businesses cannot afford to lose business opportunities because of dropped calls and poor service quality,” the senators wrote. “We are also concerned about public safety and worry it is only a matter of time before this situation leads to tragedy when a rural customer is unable to receive an urgent call.”
The FCC listened, and recently announced that it will fine long-distance providers who participate in least-cost routing (LCR), which includes passing a call destined for rural consumers to intermediate providers to reduce cost. In March, the FCC set its first example by settling on a voluntary fine of almost $1 million from a national long-distance carrier as part of an investigation into the carrier’s efforts to route and complete calls to rural communities.
However, finding the guilty parties is harder than it sounds, seeing as a number of long-distance carriers are included in the mix of exchanges that occur during a phone call. That is why Arvig is asking customers to report any call completion issues.
“Failed calls, delayed calls, poor quality and incorrect caller ID are all signs of call completion,” Klinnert adds. “By reporting the phone numbers involved, the time of the call and the problem that occurred, consumers can help us provide information that leads to a solution.”
Arvig has developed an online form for easy customer reporting. Visit arvig.com/callcompletion for more details.