Tester rings up FCC to demand better rural call completion
With too many rural calls failing, Senator leaves federal agency a message
(BIG SANDY, Mont.) – With rural telephone calls failing 13 times more often than calls in urban areas, Montana farmer Jon Tester is demanding that the federal agency in charge of America’s communications system does more to keep rural America connected.
Tester is backing a bipartisan resolution calling on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to help step up phone service in rural America. The resolution, part of a wider Tester effort to improve rural phone and internet service, also says that no company can unreasonably discriminate against rural phone users.
Tester, whose resolution highlights the importance of reliable phone service for rural businesses and public safety, wants the FCC to aggressively pursue phone companies whose business practices lead to dropped calls.
“Families, farmers and trucking companies all rely on dependable phone service to stay safe and keep their businesses running,” said Tester, the Senate’s only working farmer. “The FCC needs to crack down on companies who aren’t giving rural communities a fair shake and make sure folks can get on the line and stay on the line.”
Tester also noted that many small, local telecommunications companies are losing customers because of a lack of quality service in rural areas. A 2012 survey showed that 6.4 percent of calls to rural areas fail compared to only 0.5 percent in urban areas.
Tester, who first brought the issue of poor rural call completion to the FCC’s attention last year, recently got the agency to delay a rule that could discourage rural telecommunications companies from investing in new broadband internet infrastructure.