Tester doubles down to improve rural phone service
Senator backs bill to strengthen standards for rural America
(U.S. SENATE) – Following through on his pledge to improve telephone call quality in rural America, Senator Jon Tester is doubling down on his efforts to make sure calls made from rural America are not dropped.
Tester is co-sponsoring a bill that directs the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to establish basic quality standards for service providers that transmit long-distance calls. A recent study found that calls made in rural America are 13 times more likely to fail to connect.
Tester, who successfully pushed the FCC to issue new rules improving rural call quality and to end phone companies’ practice of discriminating against rural phone users, said that while service has improved, higher standards are needed to ensure rural phone customers receive the same call quality as customers in other parts of the country.
“Improving phone service in rural America strengthens communities and Montana’s role in the global marketplace,” Tester said. “The FCC has worked hard to address the needs of rural America, but this bill will ensure that more folks experience the reliable, high-quality service they need to grow their businesses and stay close to family.”
Tester’s bill also requires intermediate call providers – who help connect calls placed in rural America – to be registered with the FCC and to follow the new call quality standards. Currently, identifying the intermediate providers that fail to connect rural calls is difficult, making finding bad actors more challenging.
Improving rural call quality also helps rural Americans reliably contact first responders or family members in an emergency.