U.S. Senator Tim Johnson (D-SD) today is encouraged by the news that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has entered into a consent decree with Level 3 Communications as part of the agency's rural call completion investigation. This settlement resolves an investigation into Level 3's rural call completion practices.
"The ongoing call completion problems threaten the integrity of our nation's communications network and create serious economic and public safety concerns for rural communities in South Dakota and across our country," said Johnson. "Today's settlement is an important step forward. I'm glad the FCC has sent a clear message that providers causing these problems will be held accountable. I will continue exerting careful oversight over the FCC as the agency continues its investigation and will do all I can to ensure these problems are fully resolved."
Johnson has worked to raise awareness about the seriousness of the call completion problems in rural America and has spearheaded a coalition of Senators who are committed to getting these issues addressed. In December 2012, Johnson and 35 other Senators sent a letter to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski that urged the agency to closely monitor the practice of least cost routing and expedite its investigation by requiring the submission of network performance data that includes a detailed analysis of call completion rates. This helped lead to the release of a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) that proposed new steps to strengthen the FCC's investigation of providers that are failing to properly complete long distance telephone calls to rural areas. The letter from December 2012 was not the first time Johnson weighed in with the FCC about this issue. Senator Johnson led an earlier letter to the FCC in January 2012 that prompted the agency to release a Declaratory Ruling on Rural Call Completion Issues a month later. This ruling reiterated and clarified the federal prohibitions against blocking, choking, reducing or restricting telephone traffic.
In the settlement, Level 3 has agreed to meet call completion standards, provide extensive records to assist FCC enforcement of rules protecting against failed calls to rural areas, and make a $975,000 voluntary contribution to the U.S. Treasury.