Verizon has agreed to a $5 million settlement with the FCC over the carrier’s handling of call completion in rural areas.
The FCC’s Enforcement Bureau led an inquiry that centered on whether, over a period of many months in 2013, Verizon failed to investigate evidence of low call answer rates to 26 different rural areas across the country. Those calls included both wireless and wireless.
The FCC reports that Verizon will pay a fine of $2 million and will implement a compliance plan in which it commits to spend an additional $3 million over the next three years to improve call completion to rural areas across the country.
Travis LeBlanc, Chief of the Enforcement Bureau, said in a statement that all Americans have a right to make and receive phone calls.
“Phone companies are on notice that the FCC will hold them accountable for failures to investigate and ensure that calls go through to the rural heartland of the country,” Leblanc said.
Among a number of other clauses in the agreement, Verizon has also agreed to appoint a Rural Call Completion Ombudsman within Verizon to centralize analysis of rural call completion problems, and to develop a system to automatically identify customer complaints that may be related to rural call completion issues.
Verizon was also ordered to limit its use of intermediate providers providers between the Verizon network and the local rural provider, that are often the source of call completion problems.
This is the fourth major resolution of a rural call completion investigation. The Bureau entered into consent decrees related to rural call completion performance with Matrix Telecom, Windstream Corporation, and Level 3 Communications.