To the editor:
Although telecommunications services are vital to all Oregonians, many rural Oregon landline telephone customers no longer take the ability to make and receive telephone calls for granted.
This is because rural telephone companies and their customers are experiencing what has become known nationally as “rural call completion” problems. These problems include calls not being connected, calls with incorrect or misleading caller ID information, garbled or poor sound quality, and dead air. This issue affects both long distance calls and wireless telephone calls.
These problems frustrate rural telephone customers, many of whom are failing to receive calls from family members or friends.
Additionally, these connection problems can cause significant harm to local businesses that may be missing incoming calls from their suppliers or losing business opportunities from their customers.
Many rural customers understandably, yet mistakenly, place the blame for their call completion issues on their local telephone company or the local telephone company servicing the town being called. However, rather than being the fault of the local telephone company, these problems are generally caused by the route a rural call takes when transported by the network of either the caller’s long distance company or wireless telephone company.
The Oregon Public Utility Commission (OPUC) has researched rural call completion problems and recently approved a rule to require all telecommunication carriers certified in Oregon to complete calls.
The OPUC asks all customers to contact the OPUC at 503-378-6600, or toll free within Oregon at 1-800-522-2404, to report problems experienced while placing or receiving long distance and wireless calls within Oregon.
In addition to contacting the OPUC, long distance and wireless telephone customers experiencing call completion problems should contact their respective long distance or wireless telephone service provider and request to open a trouble ticket.
These companies should work with their customers to resolve these issues.
Finally, if the customer is not able to contact parties in rural areas by telephone, we encourage using an alternate method of communication, e.g., email, until the problem is resolved.
Susan Ackerman, Chair
Oregon Public Utility Commission