U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, today joined U.S. Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Jon Tester (D-Mont.) in reintroducing the Improving Rural Call Quality and Reliability Act. The bill would help correct long-standing problems with call completion failures faced by rural telecom customers. Reports of call completion issues have ranged from lengthy periods of dead air to calls not arriving at their destination at all. A companion version of the legislation was also reintroduced in the U.S. House of Representatives.
“For most Americans, grabbing the phone, dialing a number, and waiting for someone to pick up on the other end is a task as routine as they come,” said Thune. “But believe it or not, for a lot of folks who live in rural states like South Dakota, call completion and reliability can still be a challenge today. I’m committed to finding solutions that improve rural telecommunications services, which is why I’m a strong supporter of the bill we’ve just reintroduced. I want to thank Sen. Klobuchar for her leadership on this issue and look forward to once again considering this legislation in the Commerce Committee.”
The Improving Rural Call Quality and Reliability Act would create a registry of intermediate providers, which are third-party companies that connect long distance calls between large, national providers and smaller, local providers, and require the Federal Communications Commission to establish service quality standards. The bill would also prohibit telephone carriers from using an intermediate provider that has not been registered. These measures would create greater accountability for intermediate providers and lead to a more efficient and effective delivery of long distance calls.
The bill was approved by the Senate Commerce Committee, which has jurisdiction over telecommunications issues, and the full House in the 114th Congress.