WCVT, NTCA Applaud Rep. Welch For Rural Call Completion Leadership, Legislation

For Immediate Release
Contact: Hillary Crowder, 703-351-2086, hcrowder@ntca.org

Richmond, Vt. (October 20, 2015)Rep. Peter Welch (D–Vt.) today visited Camels Hump Middle School in Richmond to highlight his bipartisan legislation to address the frequency of dropped telephone calls in rural America.  In Vermont, rural school administrators regularly experience dropped calls while notifying parents of school cancellations due to inclement weather.  

In some rural areas of the country, nearly one in five inbound calls to landline phones are not completed or are of poor quality.  Poor call completion in rural areas often stems from the use by retail long distance providers of third parties to deliver calls at reduced rates.  As a member of the powerful House Energy and Commerce Committee, Welch has been a strong advocate for improving rural call completion and connectivity in rural America and holding third party providers accountable.

At the Richmond school, Welch highlighted his bipartisan legislation to tackIe the problem.  The Rural Call Quality and Reliability Act would hold providers accountable by requiring them to register with the FCC and meet quality standards ensuring rural Americans can rely on their phone service. The bill explicitly prohibits providers from using any intermediary routing service that is not registered with the FCC. In April, Rep. Welch reintroduced a bipartisan resolution that outlines steps the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) should take to improve telephone service in rural areas.

"Reliable telephone service is a lifeline for residents, businesses, and schools in rural parts of Vermont and the country. Vermonters living and doing business in rural parts of our state should have confidence that every call they make and every call they receive are completed without disruption," Congressman Welch said. “It is simply unacceptable in the 21st Century for rural Americans to be frustrated by dropped calls due to telecom provider connection issues."

“Today’s event with Rep. Peter Welch at Camels Hump Middle School in Richmond, Vt., demonstrates yet again why it is so important to address the ongoing epidemic of calls failing to reach rural areas,” said NTCA Chief Executive Officer Shirley Bloomfield. “When calls fail, this has a real and potentially dangerous impact on consumers—and businesses—as well as on schools, libraries, hospitals and other anchor institutions upon which rural communities depend. NTCA–The Rural Broadband Association thanks the congressman for his leadership and ongoing vigilance on this issue, including not only today’s appearance but also sponsorship of a bill condemning practices that lead to call failures and demanding action by the FCC to aggressively pursue those that engage in such practices. NTCA continues to press for a mix of effective rules, education and enforcement to stem the tide of call failures once and for all.”

“Waitsfield and Champlain Valley Telecom applauds Rep. Peter Welch for his continuing leadership to ensure that people in rural communities like the ones we serve can communicate seamlessly with other parts of the country,” said Kurt Gruendling, Vice President of Marketing and Business Development for Waitsfield and Champlain Valley Telecom (WCVT). “This is not just a problem here in Vermont, but rather a nationwide epidemic affecting rural communities across the entire country. We hope that today’s action will lead to the passage of legislation that reminds other carriers and intermediate providers of the importance of completing calls and the obligation to track whether calls are completing and to investigate why calls may be failing. We look forward to working with the congressman to achieve that goal.”

Rep. Welch is the founder and co-chair of the Rural Telecommunications Working Group within the House Energy and Commerce Committee.