Verizon Settles Rural Call Completion Investigation, Will Pay $2 Million Fine

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The FCC’s Enforcement Bureau (Bureau) and Verizon have entered into a Consent Decree which resolves the Bureau’s investigation into Verizon’s failure to investigate potential problems with its delivery of calls to rural areas. As explained in the Consent Decree, Verizon began collecting weekly samples of its call answer rates to individual rural incumbent local exchange carriers as identified by operating company number (OCN) in April 2013, and periodically provided the data to the Bureau. After reviewing Verizon’s reports, the Bureau issued a letter of inquiry (LOI) to Verizon seeking information about what efforts Verizon had made to investigate the causes of its persistently low call answer rates in 39 specific rural OCNs. Pursuant to a 2012 Declaratory Ruling, it is an unjust and unreasonable practice in violation of the Communications Act for a carrier that knows or should know that it is providing degraded service to certain areas to fail to correct the problem. In response to the LOI, “Verizon acknowledged that, although it had previously initiated investigations or taken remedial action for 13 of the 39 OCNs, it had not done so for the remaining 26 OCNs prior to being served with the LOI. Verizon did undertake an investigation of the remaining 26 OCNs after receiving the LOI and provided the results to the Bureau showing that, in Verizon’s estimation, the low call answer rates were not attributable to Verizon’s network or call completion practices.” The parties subsequently entered into the Consent Decree which requires Verizon to pay a fine of $2 million to the U.S. Treasury. Verizon will also implement a compliance plan in which it will spend an additional $3 million over the next three years on measures to advance and achieve its own and industry solutions to rural call completion problems. The Verizon Consent Decree is the FCC’s fourth major resolution of a rural call completion investigation.

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