Level 3 Communications Inc. will pay almost $1 million in fees and let the FCC review its service quality in rural areas.
That's because the FCC says call rates are failing in rural areas due to long-distance operators and intermediate providers trying to cut down on the amount paid to local phone companies by using least-cost routing.
The Colorado-based carrier will make what the FCC called a voluntary payment of $975,000 to the U.S. Treasury and has agreed to pay $1 million each quarter if it does not hit new performance benchmarks.
"Basic long-distance phone calls are failing in many areas of rural America at alarming rates," Michele Ellison, FCC enforcement chief, said in a prepared statement. "This is unacceptable."
In addition to financial concessions, Level 3says it will do the following:
- Complete long-distance calls to local phone companies in rural areas at a rate within 5 percent of what is experienced in non-rural areas over two years;
- Rate intermediate providers and notify them each month of problematic routes; and
- Stop using intermediate providers that do not perform well and help the FCC investigate those companies.
In a statement, Level 3 said it has pushed for "clear and measurable standards applicable to all providers, and this agreement is a solid step in that direction."