Rural Call Completion

Rural Call Completion: Problems with Long Distance or Wireless Calling to Rural Areas

Consumers across the country continue to report problems placing and receiving long distance or wireless calls to and from rural areas on their landline telephones.

If your landline telephone is working (for example, you can make calls and receive most calls) but you learn that callers have been unable to reach you at your home or business, you may be experiencing “failure to complete” problems.

Typical symptoms of “failure to complete” problems include the following:

  • Long distance or wireless callers tell you they repeatedly hear nothing or “dead air” for 10 seconds or more after they dial your number. If they stay on the line, the call may seem to drop off or they may eventually hear a busy signal.
  • Long distance or wireless callers tell you they repeatedly hear prolonged ringing on their end after they dial your number, but it doesn’t ring in on your end (e.g., the callers wait 10-20 rings before they finally hang up).
  • Long distance or wireless callers tell you they repeatedly hear a recording such as “The number you have dialed is not in service” or “Your call cannot be completed as dialed” when they know they’ve correctly dialed your number.
  • Consistently after you answer a call, the voice quality is unacceptable. For example, one person cannot hear the other, the sound is choppy, there are awkward transmission delays after speaking, or there is an echo.
  • When trying to send a long-distance fax the fax machines consistently fail to interoperate.

What is the cause of these problems?

In a nutshell, the problem appears to be occurring in rural areas where long distance or wireless carriers normally pay higher-than-average charges to the local telephone company to complete calls. That is, for a long distance or wireless carrier to complete one of its subscriber’s calls to a resident of a rural area, the carrier must get the call to the exchange serving that resident (the local phone company), and then pay a charge to that local carrier to access its exchange. The physical process of getting calls to the exchange is called “routing,” and the charge paid by the long-distance company to the local carrier is called an “access charge.” These charges are part of the decades-old system of “access charges” that help pay for the cost of rural networks. To minimize these charges, some long-distance and wireless carriers contract with third-party “least-cost routing” service providers to connect calls to their destination at the lowest cost possible. Although many of these contracts include strictly-defined performance parameters, it appears that all too frequently those performance levels are not being met or, indeed, some calls are not even connecting at all.

What is being done to fix these problems?

The FCC is addressing call completion and call quality problems affecting long distance, wireless, and VOIP calls to rural telephone customers on multiple fronts. In 2018, Congress passed the Improving Rural Call Quality and Reliability Act of 2017, the RCC Act. The RCC Act required intermediate providers – companies assisting originating phone providers to route phone calls – to register with FCC and to comply with the service quality standards that the FCC is directed to establish.

What can you do?

  • Whenever possible, you should encourage the person trying to call you to report details of the problem to their telephone service provider. The number to report such problems should appear directly on the person’s monthly bill. That provider should be best able to locate the source of the problem and fix it.
  • You can also file a complaint with the FCC. For the FCC to act on your complaint, you must provide the caller’s number, the called number, and the date the attempted calls or problem calls were made. To file a complaint, complete the online Phone Complaint Form found at

FCC Complaint

Contact Us

Genuine Telecom
430 W Union St. Suite 3
PO Box 409
Richland Center, WI 53581
608-647-2345 or:
608-649-6060 (Fax)


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