Late yesterday, President Trump signed into law bipartisan legislation introduced by Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.) that will improve landline telephone service in rural areas plagued by phone calls being dropped or not getting through at all.
Welch partnered with Rep. David Young (R-Iowa) to champion the legislation after learning from Dakin Farm in Ferrisburgh and Camels Hump Middle School in Richmond that their incoming and outgoing phone calls were being dropped or not completed. As a result, Dakin Farms has experienced lost revenue due to uncompleted customer calls and public safety is jeopardized when school officials are unable to reach parents to convey weather-related school closings.
The cause of the problem is poor service by middleman companies across the country whose job it is to connect calls between national and local landline networks.
The Improving Rural Call Quality and Reliability Act directs the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to establish service quality standards for these middleman companies and hold them accountable for poor service in rural areas of the country.
"No Vermonter or business should experience dropped phone calls," Welch said. "Every call made, regardless of location, should be reliably connected. This new law will improve phone service in rural America by requiring phone companies to meet call connection service quality standards."
The legislation was sponsored in the Senate by Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), John Thune (R-S.D.) and John Tester (D-Mont.).
The bill is the second Welch bill to become law this year. Last month, the INTERDICT Act, cosponsored by Welch, was signed into law. It authorizes $9 million for border agency officials to purchase equipment to detect and intercept fentanyl and other synthetic opioids at border crossings and airports.
Welch is the co-founder and co-chair of the House Rural Broadband Caucus.