FCC task force will address rural calling problems

The Federal Communications Commission announced the formation of a task force on Tuesday aimed at addressing the growing problem of delays and failures for rural phone customers.

The commission said rural carriers reported a 2,000 percent increase in complaints between April 2010 and March regarding incoming calls that are delayed, never completed, of poor quality or lacking caller ID information.

According to the FCC, the problem appears to occur in rural areas where long-distance carriers must pay charges to local phone companies to complete calls. The FCC is currently working on comprehensive reform of the intercarrier compensation system that sets those rates.

The new task force will hold a workshop to identify specific causes of the problem and discuss potential solutions, tentatively scheduled for Oct. 18. The task force will include staff from the FCC's Wireline, Public Safety and Enforcement Bureaus.