Tester secures victory for rural phone service

FCC implements Senator’s call to end discrimination against rural customers

(U.S. SENATE) – Senator Jon Tester, a forceful advocate for rural America, recently secured a victory for folks in Montana who suffer from poor phone service.

In rural areas across the country, as many as one in five long-distance calls fails to connect, and many more get interrupted or dropped. In fact, a caller will often hear the phone ring in their ear despite the phone not ringing on the other end.

Tester recently called on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to end phone companies’ practice of discriminating against rural phone users and improve phone service for folks in rural America. The FCC agreed and is putting forward rules that require phone companies to report data on the number of calls going through to rural communities and to encourage phone companies to improve their service to rural America.

“Improving calls and other forms of communication that connect Montanans to the wider world will help families stay in touch, strengthen our communities and make Montana a bigger player in the global economy,” Tester said. “These changes will make a big difference for folks in rural America who need reliable, high-quality phone service.”

Tester also secured a commitment from the FCC to ban the practice of making a caller think their call is going through, including playing ring-back tones, when the call is already disconnected.

Tester this week supported Tom Wheeler’s confirmation as head of the FCC and Mike O’Reilly’s confirmation as an FCC Commissioner. With Wheeler’s and O’Reilly’s confirmations, the commission can move forward with work on communications issues nationwide, such as upgrading the networks used by police and emergency services and re-establishing predictability and transparency in the Universal Service Fund (USF) program.