Dropped calls in rural areas to cost Level 3

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Posted: Tuesday, March 19, 2013 12:00 am

For years, the Nebraska Public Service Commission has had complaints about calls not going through to rural parts of the state — even when the caller was on his cellphone, at home, calling his own home number.

So commission communications department director Gene Hand on Monday praised the Federal Communications Commission for an investigation that he said indicates that the dropped calls were not the fault of rural telephone service providers.

Telecommunications firm Level 3 Communications, founded in Omaha and now based in Broomfield, Colo., has announced that it will pay $975,000 to the FCC after an investigation into whether the company and others violate federal law with respect to their ability to complete calls to rural areas. The investigation focused on how well carriers provide oversight of third-party providers they contract with to route calls.

As part of the agreement, Level 3, whose fiber-optic network serves parts of Nebraska, said it will complete long-distance calls to local, rural phone companies at a rate within 5 percent of its call completion rate in nonrural areas. Level 3 will report its compliance to the FCC quarterly starting in January 2014 and pay an additional $1 million if it misses the mark in any quarter.

“Level 3 fully supports the commission's mandate to improve telephone call quality in rural America, and to root out those in the industry responsible for any substandard phone service,” said Michael Mooney, attorney for Level 3 Communications. “We hope that the standards we have set with the commission are adopted broadly across the industry so that call quality to rural America continues to improve.”

PSC Commissioner Frank Landis of Lincoln said, “This move by the FCC puts everyone on notice: Poor service quality to customers is not going to be tolerated.”

Contact the writer: 402-444-1336, barbara.soderlin@owh.com

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