Problems with out of town calls

-- Sierra TelOctober 4, 2012 

Many people living in Eastern Madera County and surrounding areas are experiencing intermittent problems receiving long-distance phonecalls. This is a national issue related to how a long distance carrier routes calls to you.

The service failures are the result of a practice called "least cost routing" (LCR). To summarize the problem, this LCR practice allows long distance calls to be handed off to multiple long distance carriers who in turn do not deliver the call for completion to rural areas. Local phone companies like Sierra Telephone and TDS Telecom have no control over this issue; in fact, many dropped calls never even hit the local phone company networks.

The problem occurs on calls originated using a variety of telephone technologies, including: landline, wireless, cable, and VoIP.

Customers may have encountered the following problems:

Someone tells you they tried to call you but the call didn't get through, or the caller heard ringing, but you didn't.

A call came through to you, but the call quality was poor.

A call came through, but the Caller ID was incorrect.

Failed or poor quality calls not only cause customers and callers frustration, they also pose a risk to public safety and harm the rural economy. For example, schools may not be able to reach parents with critical alerts, adult children may not be able to reach elderly parents that need to be checked on, and small businesses may lose valued customers.

Local telephone companies, such as Sierra Telephone and TDS Telecom are not the cause of the problem; they, like their customers, are frustrated by the illegal practices ofsome long-distance carriers.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and its Rural Call Completion Task Force have taken action. Most recently, they reminded long-distance carriers that it is illegal to block, choke, or reduce long-distance traffic, and that this prohibition also includes any practices that lead to call termination or call quality problems.

These practices violate the Communications Act of 1934 because they are seen as unreasonable discrimination of those who reside in rural areas.

Local telephone companies are asking for your help in gathering the documentation necessary to compel the Federal Communications Commission and the California Public Utilities Commission to work together to stop this problem.

There are several steps you can take to help report the problem:

Ask for the name of the long-distance carrier used by the person trying to reach you.

Contact the local phone company's Customer Service Department and provide them with: the name of the long-distance carrier used by your caller; your phone number; and, the number of the person trying to call you along with the date and time of the call.

Go to or for more information on the call completion issue or to file a complaint with the FCC against the long-distance carrier used by the person trying to call you.

The Sierra Star is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service