Shortly after a 5.8-magnitude earthquake rocked a good portion of the East Coast in August, with trembles felt all the way from Virginia – the core of the earthquake – up through Vermont, U.S. policymakers were forced to turn their attention to the impact that the call volume had on the network, and the abundance of calls that failed to complete, that day.
Within those few hours, from the onset of the earthquake to the aftermath of individuals, some panicked, contacting family, friends and colleagues in the region to check up, rural telcos were heavily burdened with a flurry of calls.
If you thought those few hours were bad enough, one should consider the impact that call routing and termination have on rural customers on an hourly and daily basis. As Shirley Bloomfield of the National Telecommunications Cooperative Association (NTCA) stated in a recent blog aimed at the FCC (News - Alert), “This problem is growing exponentially to the point where many rural telcos are losing customers, who express great frustration, with network connectivity that has nothing to do with the local telco.”
Bloomfield’s blog echoes the NTCA’s (News - Alert) call to action for the FCC to take this issue head-on, and it seems the FCC has been listening.
Taking the first steps toward resolving the rise in routing and termination problems with calls to rural carriers, the FCC has created a Rural Call Completion Task Force that will be made up of staff members from several of its bureaus. In addition, the task force has already tentatively scheduled a workshop for Oct. 18, in which members will address the extent of the call termination problem in rural areas; the causes of the problem, specifically whether carriers are not adhering to the law by blocking or restricting calls to other carriers; and the steps the FCC can take to address the issue.
A premier non-profit association, the NTCA, which calls itself “the voice of rural telecommunications,” aims to improve the quality of life in rural areas through the advocacy of broadband and other advanced communications infrastructures and services.
“We are gratified to see that the FCC agrees with us that the continuing failure to route and terminate calls to rural areas merits discussion and resolution in a public workshop,” Bloomfield said in a statement in response to the formation of a task force. “The FCC’s announcement that it has formed a task force and that it will hold a workshop is a welcome step toward getting to the bottom of these problems.”
“We look forward to shining a greater spotlight on these issues, and to a thorough public discussion involving both those who route these calls and those affected by such routing practices. Rural consumers deserve to have their calls consistently connected,” she added.
For more information on this policy statement from the FCC, visit the NTCA website, and stay tuned to the Least Cost Routing channel, exclusively on TMCnet.
Tammy Wolf is a TMCnet web editor. She covers a wide range of topics, including IP communications and information technology. To read more of her articles, please visit her columnist page.
Edited by Jennifer Russell