Rural Calling | Tele-Tech Services Blog

Category » Rural Calling

FCC Increases 2014 Voice Rate Floor to $20.46

The FCC has set a new rate floor of $20.46 for eligible telecommunications carriers (ETCs).

The Wireline Competition Bureau announced the change March 20, after completing a survey initiated on December 16, 2013.

The Bureau is also seeking comment on a petition to extend the deadline for compliance with the new rate floor. Several rural associations filed a petition to extend the deadline from July 1, 2014 to January 2, 2015.

Oppositions are due March 21; replies due March 31.

Rural carriers are complying with an FCC mandated three-step rate floor, in order to continue receiving high-cost loop support.  Local residential calling rates increased to $10 in July 2012 and $14 In July 2013.

The national urban average at the time of the first rate increase was $15.47.

Along with the 2014 rate floor, the FCC set the reasonable comparability benchmark for voice services at $46.96.

Read the Public Notice here.


Windstream Settles Rural Call Completion Investigation for $2.5 Million

Monday, February 24, 2014

Windstream becomes yet another service provider in less than a year to settle an FCC investigation into rural call completion practices.

The competitive local exchange carrier agreed to pay $2.5 million and submit to a three-year compliance plan.

In March 2013, Level 3 settled its case for nearly $1 million.

The FCC is taking aggressive measures to improve long distance call completion rates to rural customers. The agency in October 2013 approved an order that requires carriers to record, retain and report long distance call data.

Read the Commission’s announcement on the latest settlement here.


Are you a “Covered Provider”? Take our Rural Call Completion Questionnaire and find out

Thursday, January 16, 2014

New rural call completion order expands reporting requirements for many carriers.

Commissioners in late October approved a rural call completion order that requires data collection and reporting by service providers. The FCC will use that information to analyze how and why calls to rural subscribers are not being completed; data that will ultimately help with better enforcement.

No one disputes the severity of the rural calling problem: phones not ringing; calls delayed; and if a call is connected, the voice quality is so bad, it prohibits either party from understanding each other.

However, the FCC mandated solution will create an enormous burden for many carriers that are still working to comply with intercarrier compensation, universal service and special access reforms.

If you’re trying to figure out how the new rural call completion rules affect you, Tele-Tech Services can help. We’ve created a Questionnaire you can use to determine whether or not you’re required to report this call data.

You’ll also find Frequently Asked Questions from the 90-page order below. Feel free to email krusso@telecomdb.com or call 843-879-5030 with any questions.

 

WHEN DOES THE RURAL CALL COMPLETION ORDER GO INTO EFFECT?

Effective dates have yet to be issued for the actual data collection rules. The Office of Management and Budget must first approve the information collection requirements.

The rest of the order goes into effect January 16, 2014, except for rules mandating that providers not signal a ringing sound to the caller until the called phone is actually ringing. That section becomes effective January 31, 2014.

Comments on the Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (FNPRM) are due January 16; replies due February 18, 2014.

WHO IS REQUIRED TO REPORT?

Providers of long-distance voice service that make the initial long-distance call path choice for more than 100,000 domestic retail subscribers, counting the total of all business and residential fixed subscriber lines and mobile phones, and aggregated over all of the provider’s affiliates, are required to record, retain and report long-distance call data. This includes local exchange carriers (LECs), interexchange carriers (IXCs), commercial mobile radio service (CMRS) providers and VoIP service providers.

Commissioners have excluded intermediate providers from these reporting requirements, on the basis that the initial call path should provide the data they need to identify problems.

Rural ILECS are encouraged to report data, although those providers are not required to do so. Participants are asked to report the number of incoming call attempts received, the number answered on its network and the call answer rate calculation.

WHAT DATA MUST I RECORD?

Covered providers must record and retain data on long distance call attempts made to ALL carriers (not just rural service providers), for which they make the initial long-distance call path choice. Data collection applies to all domestic long-distance calls, both interstate and intrastate. Providers must report data on interstate and intrastate calls separately.

All call attempts must be recorded, and autodialer traffic must be included, along with calls of very short duration.

Call attempts to toll free numbers are excluded.

Data fields must include:

  1. calling party number
  2. called party number
  3. date
  4. time
  5. an indication whether the call was handed off to an intermediate provider or not and, if so, which intermediate provider
  6. the rural OCN associated with the called party number
  7. an indication whether the call attempt was interstate or intrastate
  8. an indication whether the call attempt was answered, which may take the form of an SS7 signaling cause code or SIP signaling message code associated with each call attempt
  9. an indication whether the call attempt was completed to the ILEC but signaled as busy, ring no answer or unassigned number, which may also take the form of an SS7 signaling cause code or SIP signaling message code associated with each call attempt

Numbers eight and nine above may prove especially problematic for smaller service providers that may not have SS7 probes, since standard industry CDR formats do not include this information.

For calls to rural OCNs, there must be one line item or row on the report for each rural OCN.

For calls to non-rural OCNs, the carrier that made the routing choice must still report the same information, but it can be in the aggregate (i.e., one line item on the report covering all non-rural OCNs, as opposed to one line item for each rural OCN.)

WHAT IS THE TIME PERIOD FOR RETAINING DATA?

Data is to be retained for a six month period.

WHEN DO I REPORT THE DATA?

Data is to be reported quarterly. The reporting deadlines are:

  • February 1: data from October – December due.
  • May 1: data from January – March due.
  • August 1: data from April – June due.
  • November 1: data from July – September due.

HOW LONG MUST I COLLECT THIS DATA?

Right now, there is no sunset date for the rules. The order indicates Commissioners will reevaluate after three years.

Want to know if you’re required to report call data? Take our Questionnaire and find out.


Rural Carriers Expand Local Calling Areas

October 1, 2013

Researchers at Tele-Tech Services report that several Rural Incumbent Local Exchange Carriers (RLECS) in Texas, South Dakota and Kentucky are expanding their local calling areas. In some cases, providers are extending the local area by as much as two LATAs.

Thacker-Grigsby Telephone Company’s April 2013 tariff filing reveals why. The Kentucky RLEC is attempting to offset its higher local calling prices, by offering local rates to areas that, in the past, would have been considered long distance. Thacker-Grigsby serves four counties in eastern Kentucky.

Rural carriers are complying with an FCC mandated three-step rate floor, in order to continue receiving high-cost loop support.  Local residential calling rates increased to $10 in July 2012. This past July, the rate went up to $14. The Wireline Competition Bureau will set rates in 2014 and after.

These changes are part of the 2011 Universal Service Fund and Intercarrier Compensation Reform Order. The rate-of-return reform portion aims to reduce what Commissioners believe is an over-dependence on high-cost support, which keeps rural rates artificially low. The national urban average is $15.47.

Here are some of the updates we’ve made to our local data since June 2013:

  • TX – Nortex Communications increased the local calling scope for all of its exchanges to include toll free calling to all exchanges in the Dallas LATA (552) and the Wichita Falls LATA (548) under Project 41519.
  • TX – Southwest Texas Telephone Company enlarged local calling areas from its exchanges to exchanges in LATA 566, where 210 and 830 are the primary NPAs under Project 41457.
  • TX – Peoples Telephone Cooperative enlarged local calling areas by allowing toll free one way local calling scope within all exchanges owned by company under Project 41374.
  • TX – Cap Rock Telephone Cooperative enlarged the local calling area with a toll-free calling scope within the entire Lubbock LATA 544 under Project 41340.
  • TX – Alenco Communications enlarged the local calling areas slightly by removing an optional EAS and replaced with a mandatory toll free local calling scope (ELCS) to allow local calls to Laredo and calls to Mexia and Grossbeak from Donie.
  • SD, NE, WY – Golden West Telephone Cooperative is a large company that contains many smaller rural companies: Kadoka Telephone, Vivian Telephone, Sioux Valley Telephone all D/B/A Golden West Telephone.  The expanded local calling is described as “Golden West is expanding your local calling area”.  The new expanded local calling areas are located on each side of the Missouri River with toll free calling to all Golden West areas on each side of the Missouri River; basically two way toll free calling within all exchanges owned by Golden West.
  • KY – Thacker-Grigsby  Communications offered their customers a new Limited Extended Area Calling plan.  Residential  customers have 1,000 free minutes per month, business customers have 1,500 free minutes per month to call the seven surrounding counties, including over 30 additional exchanges.

By expanding local calling areas, do you think RLECs can retain their customers?  What consequences might this have on intercarrier billing? We want to hear your opinion. Leave comments below.


NTCA, OPASTCO become The Rural Broadband Association

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Two rural associations officially joined forces this week to become one organization. Members of the National Telecommunications Cooperative Association (NTCA) and the Organization for the Promotion and Advancement of Small Telecommunications Companies (OPASTCO) voted in favor of the unification, putting a stamp of approval on a process that had been in the works for the last couple years.

NTCA represents 580 rural telecommunications companies, while OPASTCO has 372 members.

Beginning March 1, the new organization will be known as NTCA, The Rural Broadband Association.

Click here to view NTCA’s press release.