Thursday, March 28, 2013

Writer explains problem with connecting long-distance calls to rural areas

"In trying to avoid fees that support rural phone service, communication companies have unintentionally created big headaches for rural residents getting calls from cities," the Daily Yonder reports, introducing an article by Harold Feld, senior vice president of Public Knowledge, which advocates open access to the Internet and other technologies. He sums it up well:

"Increasing numbers of rural communities are reporting problems with incoming phone calls. Outgoing calls work fine, but when someone tries to call one of these rural communities from an urban area, the connection doesn’t go through. Though the phone never rings in the rural community, the urban caller might hear a 'false ringback' in his earpiece, inserted so he will think there’s simply no answer and won’t complain about the lack of service. This 'rural call completion' problem, which also includes connections with very bad sound quality, is getting scrutiny from the Federal Communications Commission," which has said the problem “causes rural businesses to lose customers, cuts families off from their relatives in rural areas, and creates potential for dangerous delays in public safety communications in rural areas.”

Feld's 1,700-word piece is a clear explanation of the problem, complete with graphics. To read it, click here. UPDATE, May 30: Twelve senators are sponsoring a resolution asking the FCC "to get tough with phone companies that fail to complete calls to rural areas," the Yonder reports.

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