Impact Telecom-owned Matrix Telecom Inc. has agreed to pay the federal government hundreds of thousands of dollars for failing to complete long-distance calls in rural areas.
Matrix Telecom comes with a complicated history. Until last year, the company was owned by Platinum Equity. It was comprised of bankrupt Trinsic Communications – the former Z-Tel – and the controversial Excel Telecommunications that also included the equally controversial VarTec Telecom. Then, a year ago, Impact Telecom bought Matrix Telecom.
Now, Matrix Telecom has agreed to pay $875,000 to the U.S. Treasury and file annual compliance reports after the FCC found that the provider wasn’t completing long-distance calls as required.
In a June 4 press release, the FCC said it started investing Matrix, along with Excel, VarTec and its other umbrella companies, after fielding complaints from consumers and rural carriers. The FCC said it examined months of call completion data from Matrix’s retail and wholesale operations to reach its findings.
As a result, Matrix cut down on the number of least-cost routers it was using to deliver long-distance calls to rural areas. That led to higher call completion, the FCC said. Matrix also upgraded its networks and other operations related to rural call completion, action that translated into the FCC resolving its investigation into Matrix’s practices, the agency said.
In addition to paying a big fine and filing yearly reports, Matrix further will designate a compliance officer to oversee rural call completion issues, and work with the FCC and rural LECs to establish a testing program evaluating call completion performance when complaints or data indicate problems. Matrix also has agreed to stop using least-cost routing providers that fail to improve their own performance.
The FCC said this marks the third major resolution of a rural call completion investigation in the last 15 months. In March 2013, Level 3 Communications paid $975,000 to settle an investigation of its rural call completion performance, and in February 2014, Windstream Corp. paid $2.5 million over its rural call completion performance.
“Our nation’s telecommunications laws are based on the fundamental promise that all Americans should be able to call each other wherever they may be located," said Travis LeBlanc, acting chief of the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau. “Rural America should not be treated differently, and we will continue to enforce the law to fulfill this promise."