The FCC has reached a settlement concluding its investigation into whether T-Mobile USA, violated the Communications Act when it failed to correct ongoing problems with delivery of calls to rural consumers and whether it violated the FCC rule that prohibits providers from inserting false ring tones with respect to hundreds of millions of calls. T-Mobile agreed to pay $40 million to the U.S. Treasury and entered into a compliance plan to prevent future violations.
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai stated: “It is a basic tenet of the nation’s phone system that calls be completed to the called party, without a reduction in the call quality—even when the calls pass through intermediate providers. The FCC is committed to ensuring that phone calls to all Americans, including rural Americans, go through.”
The FCC’s Enforcement Bureau opened an investigation following rural carrier and consumer complaints that T-Mobile callers were unable to reach consumers served by three rural carriers in Wisconsin. Although T-Mobile reported to the FCC that the problems had been “resolved,” the Commission continued to receive complaints that calls were failing. In addition, call completion complaints filed directly with T-Mobile showed patterns of problems with call delivery to consumers in at least seven other rural areas.
The investigation also revealed T-Mobile’s practice of injecting false ring tones into certain calls. T-Mobile reported that it had done so on hundreds of millions of calls and admitted that its actions violated the Commission’s prohibition of injecting false ring tones on any calls.
The T-Mobile settlement (formally known as a Consent Decree) and the Order adopting the Consent Decree are available at: https://apps.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-18-373A1.pdf. This is the FCC’s sixth rural call completion settlement.