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Montana telecom group unhappy with FCC over rural call completion

When I reported a while back about rural landlines and a letter from Sen. Jon Tester and others to the FCC, I knew I wasn’t finished with the subject.

Last week, Geoff Feiss, executive director of the Montana Telecommunications Association, sent a letter to the media outlining the organization’s views on what it deems the pitiful state of call completion in rural parts of Montana.

Feiss writes that it isn’t local telecoms’ fault that calls are not completed. He says the calls “never even arrive on the rural telecom’s network.”

The problem instead lies with the larger telecom companies that route calls – or don’t route them as he implies. Feiss never names names, but I think he means the big companies – ones that start with V’s and Q’s.

He has no love for the response the MTA has interpreted from the FCC either:

If you ask the FCC why it’s fiddling while the integrity of the national telecommunications network burns, they’ll say they’re doing all sorts of stuff. But first, they shift the blame. The “root cause” of the problem, says the FCC, is not the negligent or criminal behavior of unscrupulous companies, but rather a regulatory pricing structure that makes terminating calls to rural areas more expensive than calls to urban areas. They may have identified a financial motive for “upstream” providers’ unethical or illegal behavior; but instead of tracking down the culprits, incredibly they blame the victim—the rural telecom provider that never receives the calls that are being blocked upstream.

You can read the full letter in the document viewer below.

I emailed Feiss tonight to ask for a phone interview to discuss the issue and to see if I can dig up a story on this. If you have any resources on rural landlines or rural call quality you’d like to share – specific to Montana if possible, please let me know in the comments or drop me a line at