Company pays $1 million in connection with rural call completion failures

Level 3 Communications of Broomfield, CO has agreed to make a “voluntary contribution” of nearly $1 million to the U.S. Treasury to settle charges that it failed to meet rigorous new call completion standards imposed by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

According to the FCC, the higher rate of rural call completion failures is attributable to long-distance carriers who attempt to reduce the intercarrier compensation paid to local telephone companies by using third-party “least-cost routers.” Under the provisions of the federal Communications Act, long distance carriers are responsible for correcting any network service-related issues that result in degraded communications service to certain areas.

Under its agreement with the FCC, Level 3 has agreed to cease its use of poor performing least-cost routers and to achieve long-distance call completion rates to rural areas within 5% of completion rates in non-rural areas over a two-year period. Further, the company has agreed to report compliance with this 5% benchmark every quarter beginning in January 2014, and to pay an additional $1 million voluntary contribution if it fails to achieve the 5% benchmark in any quarter.

As part of its own effort to reduce rural call failure rates, the Commission has proposed new data collection and reporting rules in order to better monitor the performance of long-distance carriers in rural areas. In addition, the Commission is gradually phasing out intercarrier fees, thereby reducing the financial incentives that it says contribute to call completion failures.