The Other Dumb Thing the FCC is Doing: New Rural Call Completion Rules


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"If every call was killing somebody that didn't go through, what would you do? Well, you wouldn't do what the FCC asked because the killing would go on," says telecom activist and architect Daniel Berninger.

When the Federal Communications Commission passed the Rural Call Completion (RCC) order in 2013, they hoped to prevent telephone companies from delaying or dropping expensive long-distance calls to rural areas by relying on customer-driven complaints to lead investigations.

However since rural phone customers rarely take complaints to the FCC, the agency orders all telephone companies to submit quarterly reports of completed calls to find dropped calls: and therein lies the problem. "There isn't enough information in the data for them to find problems," says Bernginger. "No one is evaluating exactly what [the FCC's] contribution is; their existence is justified by this theory that government would be useful here."

"Rural call completion is not really rural call completion, it's call completion in general," Berninger explains. Rural customers don't need the FCC incentivizing telephone companies to not hamper their customers' service. "Our sense of reliability of that device is essential in terms of us buying that service. It's in the incentive of all the carriers to make sure call completion is high as it can be."

Reason TV's Nick Gillespie sat down with Berninger to discuss the FCC, the problems with the new Rural Call Completion rules, as well as Berninger's nonprofit, Voice Communication Exchange Committee, which seeks a transition to all-IP networks.

About 10 minutes.

Camera by Joshua Swain and Robert Mariani. Edited by Mariani.

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