Home » Consumer News »Public Policy & Gov't »Rural Broadband »Windstream » Currently Reading:

Rural Americans Losing Reliable Phone Service; FCC Investigates Growing Landline Failures

Phillip Dampier November 17, 2011 Consumer News, Public Policy & Gov't, Rural Broadband, Windstream No Comments

The Great Plans Communications Company has taken to notifying their customers about the growing problem of rural phone calls that never go through.

Rural Americans in 37 states are experiencing unprecedented problems making and receiving telephone calls on their landline phones.  The problem has grown so much, the Federal Communications Commission has announced it will investigate the 2,000 percent increase in complaints from customers who are fed up with bad phone service.

In a Stop the Cap! special report published this week, we shared details about the deteriorating landline networks owned by AT&T and Verizon.  But the problem extends beyond those phone companies, and is causing more than a little inconvenience for affected customers.

Hospitals report they are increasingly unable to reach rural patients and 911 emergency call centers say a growing number of emergency calls are not getting through.  Callers assume the problem isn’t with their landline telephone company, but with the hospital or 911 call center.

In response, the FCC has created the Rural Call Completion Task Force to investigate delayed, uncompleted, or poor quality calls.

“It’s not only an economic issue, it’s a public safety issue,” said Jill Canfield, the director of legal and industry at the National Telecommunications Cooperative Association.

In parts of Minnesota, problems are not limited to local dial tone service, but also extends to long distance calling.

Members of the Minnesota Telecom Alliance, which represents rural phone companies in Minnesota, discovered growing problems completing calls nearly a year ago.  Customers would dial numbers and be met with silence or uncompleted call intercept recordings.  Other customers, especially in area codes 320 and 218 couldn’t hear or be heard by the other calling party.  Other calls sounded like they were made underwater.

Phone companies also dealing with frustrating long distance problems have taken to their blogs to alert customers.  Great Plains Communications is one example:

For a while now, we’ve been aware of a particularly frustrating situation affecting rural telephone customers around the country.

Across the country, residents of rural communities are unable to receive long distance phone calls or are receiving calls of poor quality due to incomplete or blocked long distance calls. The issue affects landline, toll-free and wireless long distance calls.

So what’s the reason for this? Well, in the U.S., phone calls are carried on a network of phone lines that may be owned by a wide range of companies who charge a fee to carry long distance calls. To cut costs, some long distance companies attempt to use the lowest cost route available even if that route includes providers who aren’t capable of providing good call quality or even completing the call.

The result is thousands of dropped calls or calls with almost no sound quality occurring across the nation. Additional problems that customers have experienced are:

• The caller hears ringing but the receiving party hears nothing.
• The caller’s phone rings, but then hears only “dead air” when the call is answered.
• The call takes an unusually long time to place.
• Garbled, one-way, or otherwise poor call quality on completed calls.
• Callers receive odd or irrelevant recorded messages.

Investigators examining the problem confirm that company’s suspicions that fierce cost-cutting has a lot to do with the problem, especially as phone companies try and save money using cheaper Voice Over IP technology.  While most of the problems seem to afflict long distance calls (and the carriers that handle them), local phone companies like Windstream are also being targeted in the review.

A decade ago, consumers chose their long distance provider.  But today’s bundled service packages often include unlimited long distance, using the phone company’s preferred provider.  Some long distance calls are routed over the least expensive route, even if call quality suffers.

What particularly provokes customers are quality reductions coming at the same time companies like Windstream are raising prices in states like Minnesota.

Windstream defends its network and says it isn’t to blame for the problems.

“The fault is not in our network and not in our system,” Windstream spokesman Scott Morris told the SCTimes. “We do feel like we’re providing high-quality service … in what we can control and fix.”

Search This Site:

Contributions:

Recent Comments:

  • feather bed: Quality articles or reviews is the important to attract the viewers to pay a visit the website, that's what this website is providing....
  • Ralph: I absolutely love this comment, “As we’ve said before, the speed tests are the result of self-selected, self-reported samples,” Page said. “People who...
  • onlinehairclinic: Some infectionhs such aas fungal infections of the scalp, an underlying diseaselike diabetes orr lupus, scarring due to wearing pigtails, coornrows o...
  • Dekay: I was one of those unlucky Millenicom customers who just had their plan ($90/month) abruptly terminated. To get the same plan through Verizon would co...
  • Damian: Thank you for this article. I am currently with Comcast and have 50 Mbps internet speeds. I pump out a monthly average of 600 GB of data usage each m...
  • AustinTX: It's almost like Comcast has a crack team to identify anyone who is getting close to exposing them... and then giving them the push they need to go co...
  • James Cieloha: I prefer that the FCC comes with the idea of the most severe stiffest punishment handed down from the FCC being called the euthanization death penalty...
  • BobInIllinois: As a licensed CPA and auditor, this is very shocking, but very believable when one works for a Big CPA firm. I worked at a small firm, so this kind o...
  • Haiyez: I just got off the phone. I have U450 & Max Plus internet. I was paying $140 a month. The promo is over and now it's about $200 a month. Bes...
  • Fred Pilot: When a service provider views its customers as adversaries, an act like this is construed as enemy action, resulting in the blow up reported here....
  • Atreidae: That's if you live in a "class 1" area. I'm still well withn "metro melbourne" yet my exchange only has Telstra ports and their considered regional. S...
  • LoomsinJune: " I told her that I will just go ahead and cancel my service and sign up with Time Warner and she seemed more than happy to do that than offer to drop...

Your Account: