Klobuchar for unlocking cell phones and requiring call completion for rural Minnesota

The Northfield News recently ran a letter from Senator Amy Klobuchar that promotes keeping rural communities connected. She begins with picturing better broadband for rural communities…

Now, modern communications are bringing the world even closer.

With interactive video, a patient in Lac qui Parle County can be seen by a medical specialist in Minneapolis. With e-commerce, a small business in Fergus Falls can sell its product to anyone, anywhere. With online learning, a student in Two Harbors can tune in to a class at Stanford University.

Many companies see telecommuting as an important way to attract and retain the best, most productive workers, wherever they may be. I want to see these jobs in Lanesboro or Crookston, not China or India.

And she into more specific actions she’s taking to keep rural Minnesota connected. Starting with unlocking cell phones…

I believe consumers should be free to choose the phone and service that best fits their needs and budgets, and they deserve to keep and use the phones they’ve already bought.

That’s why I’ve introduced the Wireless Consumer Choice Act. This bipartisan legislation directs the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to take action so consumers will be able to unlock their phones when they switch carriers.

Including a request to require call completion in all areas…

Another problem has been around for a while, but just doesn’t seem to go away. Some long-distance providers refuse to connect calls that must go through a small rural carrier because they don’t want to pay the small charge that helps support rural phone service. …

I’ve urged the FCC to crack down on phone carriers that do this. Just a few weeks ago the FCC reached a settlement with one offender, Level 3 Communications. The company must now comply with strict call-completion standards and pay a one million dollar fine.

And finally reiterating a commitment to rural broadband…

I’ve always been a strong advocate for broadband and I’ve helped secure grants from the U.S. Agriculture and Commerce departments to expand broadband access in rural Minnesota. As technology advances, I will continue working to see that our rural communities have the tools they need to stay connected.

This entry was posted in economic development, MN, Policy by Ann Treacy. Bookmark the permalink.

About Ann Treacy

I have a Master’s Degree in Library and Information Science. I have been interested or involved in providing access to information through the Internet since 1994, when I worked for Minnesota’s first Internet service provider. I am pleased to be a part of the Blandin on Broadband Team. I also work with MN Coalition on Government Information, Minnesota Rural Partners, and the American Society for Information Science and Technology.

2 thoughts on “Klobuchar for unlocking cell phones and requiring call completion for rural Minnesota

  1. The call completion issue is a bit more complex than the Senator suggests in her letter. The small charge for call completion — the termination charge — is indeed essential to supporting the small rural telcos. However, some of these small telcos charge not fractions of a cent or a few cents but as much as $2.00 or more per minute for termination. Those “free” conference call services are in fact not free (nothing ever is). The small rural telcos offering these services make their money by charging the long-distance carriers outrageous termination fees — and those fees are required to terminate both toll-free and regular calls. So the long-distance carriers have two choices: pay the outrageous termination fees and pass the costs on to the rest of us or refuse to terminate the calls. Neither choice is correct.

    I am delighted that Senator Klobuchar is looking into this issue and hope that she and the FCC can strike the appropriate balance between the needs of small rural telcos and the economics of long distance calling.

  2. I normally don’t respond to comments, because if feel everyone has the right to express their views no matter how much I may disagree. In this case, I feel compelled just in case there is someone out there who might actually believe that any telephone company in the Country would or could charge $2.00 per minute to another telephone company to terminate a call. The traffic pumping issue Mr. Muessig is attempting to roll into call termination was fixed by the FCC a couple of years ago. Telephone companies who have high volume call centers in their exchanges must charge a reduced access rate for that type of traffic.

    At the end of the day, access rates have little to do with the call termination issue, rather than a few bad actors who are trying to get something for nothing. VoIP providers who sell their services as a replacement for telephone service and then refuse to be treated the same as legitimate telephone companies are a large problem for the existing network.

    Fritz Hendricks from Onvoy and I met with representatives from the FCC’s Call Termnation Task Force yesterday and gave them examples of calls that had the originating number stripped off the call header and replaced with a ficticious number, in essessence dumping traffic onto the network with no regard to whether or not that call will be completed. As an industry, we will continue to work with the FCC, the MNPUC, and the MN Department of Commerce to identify these bad actors and require them to complete calls they originate to rural Minnesota.

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