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Least-Cost Routing Threatens Rural Phone Call Completion

timothy posted about a year ago | from the back-to-pigeons dept.

Communications 205

New submitter kybred writes "Rural landline users are increasingly having problems with incoming calls not completing or being dropped. The culprit may be the bargain long distance carriers penchant for 'least cost routing' combined with the conversion of the Universal Service Fund to the Connect America Fund. From the Fine Article: 'Rural phone companies are the victim here," Steve Head says. "They charge a higher rate to terminate calls as it costs more for them. Shoreham Tel gets beat up because everyone calls them and says something is wrong with your system, but it's not. We've been through all of their lines and equipment and there is nothing wrong with it; it's the least-cost routing carriers.'"

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205 comments

RURAL MEANS THE BOONIES !! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42154787)

So what did they expect ??

Re:RURAL MEANS THE BOONIES !! (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42155025)

They expect to receive the service they paid for. Same as those living in the middle of a 5 mil+ city.

If the company can't provide them with the service, they shouldn't have sold it. I doubt on their contract says anywhere that X% of the calls will be randomly dropped.

I see one solution for them, for those companies I mean. Skype or something similar. Calls anywhere in the world for a flat fee. Bypass those "carriers" entirely.

Re:RURAL MEANS THE BOONIES !! (3, Informative)

Lumpy (12016) | about a year ago | (#42155207)

No internet in the boonies, so how you expecting skype to work? magical skype dust?

The ONLY option for broadband for most rural people is satellite internet. and upload is typically isdn speeds AND you have a minimum of 3000ms latency. which blows to hell skype calls.

Re:RURAL MEANS THE BOONIES !! (3, Insightful)

Cyberax (705495) | about a year ago | (#42155489)

So are they going to PAY for the service? The real price, not the subsidized cost. No?

Thought so.

Re:RURAL MEANS THE BOONIES !! (4, Insightful)

bjwest (14070) | about a year ago | (#42156285)

They don't have to. You and I are paying for it with the Universal Service Fund, or Connect America Fund, as TIL it's called. The carriers are trying to increase profits by making that fund a profit, instead of using it for what it was originally designed for - to bring affordable phone service to those living out in rural areas. To me, this should be handled the same as a tax evasion or fraud case. It is a government enforced "tax" after all, and if one penny of that fund goes to anything other than to provide service to the rural community, someone should go to jail.

Re:RURAL MEANS THE BOONIES !! (5, Informative)

icebike (68054) | about a year ago | (#42156999)

They don't have to. You and I are paying for it with the Universal Service Fund, or Connect America Fund, as TIL it's called. The carriers are trying to increase profits by making that fund a profit, instead of using it for what it was originally designed for - to bring affordable phone service to those living out in rural areas. To me, this should be handled the same as a tax evasion or fraud case. It is a government enforced "tax" after all, and if one penny of that fund goes to anything other than to provide service to the rural community, someone should go to jail.

Lets just get over the fact that there is going to be a profit, OK?
Nobody builds a telephone company to break even or run at a loss. Get over it.

You are basically saying that these rural phone companies can't take any profit unless they forego the fund.

The fund is there to level the playing field so that rural customers can afford telephone service, because without it the customer to infrastructure ratio would make it unprofitable to provide service at all. The fund is there PRECISELY to make it possible to provide the service to these areas AND a profit to the phone company owners. It is working as intended.

Universal Service Fund isn't even directly involved here.

I suggest you RTFA again.

Least-cost routing can lead to dropped calls. What happens essentially is when one dials into Shoreham the call may be routed through, for instance, an ATT router, and is then handed off to one of the hundreds of discount long-distance carriers. When this carrier’s computers quickly calculate that the call is a money loser because Shoreham Tel is allowed to charge a fraction more to access its lines, the secondary carrier simply drops the call.

The problem is unscrupulous call routing services that do not fulfill their contractual obligation to route the call if the only route available has a slightly higher cost.
They simply drop the call, and notify the carrier that the call ended. (They lie).

These call routing services are middle men, responsible only to the carriers with which they contract. They are virtually unregulated.

This is strictly a contract law problem. The big carriers need to hold those call routing services feet to the fire, or use their own call routing facilities.

Re:RURAL MEANS THE BOONIES !! (2)

amorsen (7485) | about a year ago | (#42156891)

If the company can't provide them with the service, they shouldn't have sold it.

The company is providing perfect service. Outgoing calls are working great.

Incoming calls, however, are not reaching the company. There is nothing the company can do about that.

The reason for the problem is that providers get money for handling incoming calls, and rural telecoms get more (they have more infrastructure to maintain per billed minute). Regular customers tend to pay the same price to call all of the US, and so the cheaper providers end up actually losing money on calls to rural areas. Therefore (some of) the other providers do everything in their power to avoid that cost, including dropping expensive calls on the floor or degrading quality, in the hope that the caller will either switch to a cell phone or that the two ends will decide to reestablish the call in the other direction. Incoming calls are practically always profitable.

Return it to Public Infrastructure (3, Interesting)

Herkum01 (592704) | about a year ago | (#42154807)

I had to deal with this in our corporate PBX, we connect to a provider who does god-knows-what with the call. They do this least-cost routing, but when the call does not arrive it is on the customer to figure out WTF is going on. The provider saves .01 cents on your phone call and the customer pays for the call AND the support! What a way to run a business.

Re:Return it to Public Infrastructure (2)

PlusFiveTroll (754249) | about a year ago | (#42154979)

It's up to the customer(s) to get together and test the different phone services that are doing this and make a detailed case to the FCC and FTC. If a irrefutable case can be made, one of the above organizations will fine the telco in question, hopefully for a large enough amount the telco decides it's not worth it.

Anyway, if you think this is happening complain to the FCC.

Re:Return it to Public Infrastructure (2)

rtfa-troll (1340807) | about a year ago | (#42157065)

It's up to the customer(s) to get together and test the different phone services that are doing this and make a detailed case to the FCC and FTC.

This is totally impractical. In order to test for this problem you need to make automated repeated long calls from many different locations towards a particular number and prove that it is statistically much worse than other numbers elsewhere. The only people who have this capability are the phone companies and even they don't all do it that widely.

Now that this has been reported, basically the FCC should demand that carriers, especially cheap VOIP providers, start testing it and audit them to make sure that they do.

Re:Return it to Public Infrastructure (4, Interesting)

TheRedSeven (1234758) | about a year ago | (#42155245)

So if that provider is Verizon, and they save the .01 cents say, 100,000,000 times, that means they're saving about $1,000,000.00. Right [youtube.com] ?

Re:Return it to Public Infrastructure (2)

icebike (68054) | about a year ago | (#42157045)

So if that provider is Verizon, and they save the .01 cents say, 100,000,000 times, that means they're saving about $1,000,000.00. Right [youtube.com] ?

RTFA.

The provider is not Verizon. If Verizon had a presence in these small towns there wouldn't be a problem. Its precisely because Verizon has no direct
route to these small rural companies that this problem has developed. Verizon hands off said calls to contract carriers who accept the call, calculate the price, and promptly drop the call. Verizon is none the wiser. The receiving party never gets the call, and is none the wiser. The calling party is left wondering WTF?

From TFA:

Least-cost routing can lead to dropped calls. What happens essentially is when one dials into Shoreham the call may be routed through, for instance, a Verizon router, and is then handed off to one of the hundreds of discount long-distance carriers. When this carrier’s computers quickly calculate that the call is a money loser because Shoreham Tel is allowed to charge a fraction more to access its lines, the secondary carrier simply drops the call.

Side-effect of ending traffic pumping? (5, Informative)

IamTheRealMike (537420) | about a year ago | (#42154847)

Traffic pumping [wikipedia.org] is/was a practice that essentially let rural US phone companies suck money directly out of large carriers bank accounts. The various regulations in place over the telecom industry meant that companies like AT&T couldn't do anything to stop it.

Re:Side-effect of ending traffic pumping? (4, Interesting)

faedle (114018) | about a year ago | (#42155097)

That's the irony here. Least-cost routing is one "equal and opposite reaction" to the "sender pays" system and the way calls are billed at termination.

Many of the rural exchange operators signed deals with carriers like Level3 who operated large dialup modem pools in rural exchanges near big cities are looking for ways to use that interconnect. It's really hard to feel "sorry" for these rural phone companies when they went out of their way to get this traffic in the first place 10-15 years ago, and now have these same carriers representing a significant chunk of their business instead of just 1-3%.

Re:Side-effect of ending traffic pumping? (4, Informative)

Technician (215283) | about a year ago | (#42156263)

These rural phone companies also host free teleconfrence centers and chat lines. The goal is to have lots of callers with lots of time on the service. Many phone companies don't like the heavy drain of money to fund these free services. Low cost and free phone services are the first to pull the plug. Alternative phone services simply refuse to pay termination fees for low cost or free phone services to those rural companies. If you want to see this first hand, use Google Voice and call a free confrence room hosted in Iowa. It won't go through. Most VOIP servies block this money hole. ATT tried to block or charge LD fees to call these services, but the court blocked them.
http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20090925/1607516327.shtml [techdirt.com]

"Free" market fail (5, Insightful)

Jawnn (445279) | about a year ago | (#42154857)

If the telecom industry had not been regulated, people who lived in rural areas would have have gotten phone service. One might rationally argue along the lines of "Too damned bad. Move to town, ya hick.", but most people would not. The phone service is a utility, a vital one. As such the phone company was granted certain benefits (rights of way for the stringing and later, burying, of cable, for example). In exchange it agreed to wire rural areas. There's more involved than just that, but you get the idea. Without regulation, things would have been a mess, with consumers held hostage. Regulation can fix this scenario too. It's complicated though. You can't just telll the LD carriers "you must complete this call" if doing so costs them more than they charge. Likewise, the small rural phone companies must receive enough revenue to maintain their operation. And of course, wireless muddies things even further. The only way this is going to get fixed is if sane regulation is brought to bear.

Re:"Free" market fail (4, Insightful)

icebraining (1313345) | about a year ago | (#42155171)

People don't need to move, they just need to pay enough so that their carriers won't charge higher fees for incoming calls.

Saying "regulation can fix this scenario" without specifying how is senseless. The bottom-line is, any regulation you impose in this case just passes the extra costs from rural citizens to everyone else. Therefore, if you as a society think that cheaper phone service is indispensable, you just impose a tax on everyone's phone bill and use it to subsidize rural users.

Personally, I see nothing wrong with having people pay the extra cost of living in the rural areas. Not to mention that other stuff (e.g. land) is cheaper than in the cities.

Re:"Free" market fail (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42155481)

Income is also lower. So they are squeezed on both ends, lower income and higher cost of services. This causes a growing disparity between rural and urban citizens. That is bad for a society. Being a selfish piece of garbage and saying they should simply pay much more so that everyone can avoid pennies is exactly the kind of attitude which is causing this country to degenerate into a shithole. Perhaps when you watch your family gang-raped by these odious proles you care nothing about while your house burns down around you, cooperation will finally seem like the better choice.

Re:"Free" market fail (3, Interesting)

icebraining (1313345) | about a year ago | (#42155581)

I'm not from your country. But in any case, fine, I'll subsidize phones if they subsidize the much higher rent and land prices

Re:"Free" market fail (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42155595)

Please feel free to stop spouting socialist bullshit on my Rural Citizen behalf. If it costs more, I'll pay more. If the cost becomes prohibitive, I'll stop paying. I'd rather go wireless or even not have a phone if it means stealing out of someone else's pocket to get it. You know why all those fly-over states are red rather than blue every four years? Because we're not assholes who think we're entitled to what we haven't earned.

Re:"Free" market fail (2)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42155895)

If you, as a group, view such a subsidized service as stealing from other people, why do you keep using it? Why haven't you all, en mass, stopped using the local, subsidized telephone service and bought satellite phones where you know you are paying for it yourself? Or would people not stop using it until the price actually reflected the cost, because when given the option, most people will take the cheapest option and ignore external costs imposed on others, regardless of the color of their state. So they would need an outside authority to force costs to actually reflect what they are doing, to make the decision for them since they won't do it themselves...

Re:"Free" market fail (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42156187)

Really, you're making the hypocrisy argument...?

When will people learn..it's not an argument, it's at best an attack on the person.

I'm perfectly capable of holding some belief that "X is wrong", and then using the benefit of X without being a hypocrit.

That just makes me rational and not an idiot.

If somebody does something wrong, and it has a positive outcome, I should use it to mitigate the damage. I may even have an ethical responsibility to do so.

If I think that the presence of foodstamps is wrong -- but I qualify ... I'm going to use them. That doesn't make me less of a person or dishonorable. That makes me someone who uses the benefits for which society has made me eligible.

Don't like it? All you need do is also vote against it.

I'm not going to give up a benefit every other person enjoys just for the sake of my own argument. That would be idiocy.

So yes -- people in red states are perfectly freaking capable of rationally, logically, and ethically voting against programs they themselves use.

Don't sprout bullshit about how they won't do it themself. They shouldn't do it themself. It would be stupid to.

Re:"Free" market fail (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42156331)

The point wasn't so much that it makes a person a hypocrite, but that they need an outside authority to make such decisions for them, because they are incapable of following through themselves. Your reply seems to be in agreement in that regard.

Regardless, you are correct in saying that if a person says "X is wrong" they can do X without being a hypocrite... if only admitting what they are doing is wrong. If they claim it is wrong, and then claim to do the same thing without being wrong themselves, that is the definition of being a hypocrite though.

To me, that doesn't make someone an evil, dishonorable person anyways. It just weakens the argument, that they don't seem to care about the problem if they don't take steps themselves to mitigate the problem. If rural people thought it was a great travesty to take money from urban people to pay for their phone service, they would stop using it, even if it doesn't completely stop the problem, it would mitigate it. Otherwise, it becomes more of a "Well, someone should fix that at some point... but I don't care that much to make any changes in my lifestyle."

Might as well complain about how people shouldn't let their dogs crap in a public park without being cleaned up, but continue to let your dog crap there until it is made illegal, because you are going to use that benefit as long as possible.

Re:"Free" market fail (1)

rmdingler (1955220) | about a year ago | (#42156361)

Satellite phones are subsidized for the most rural of residents, too....as is rural electric service. Should not our country brothers and sisters enjoy modern conveniences such as electricity, phone service, and internet while they grow our subsidized corn, soybeans, and cotton?

Re:"Free" market fail (0)

amorsen (7485) | about a year ago | (#42156929)

So they are squeezed on both ends, lower income and higher cost of services. This causes a growing disparity between rural and urban citizens.

If they can earn more money in the city, then that is probably because the benefit they provide to society is higher in the city. We are all poorer because rural citizens are underperforming their potential.

That is certainly not something we should subsidize even more.

Re:"Free" market fail (1)

kelemvor4 (1980226) | about a year ago | (#42155597)

Saying "regulation can fix this scenario" without specifying how is senseless. The bottom-line is, any regulation you impose in this case just passes the extra costs from rural citizens to everyone else. Therefore, if you as a society think that cheaper phone service is indispensable, you just impose a tax on everyone's phone bill and use it to subsidize rural users.

Personally, I see nothing wrong with having people pay the extra cost of living in the rural areas. Not to mention that other stuff (e.g. land) is cheaper than in the cities.

I disagree, when you have a complex problem saying that using a means to force action that has yet to be determined can be the start of getting things done. Then you need to form some sort of committee and work out what the best option is and it will likely end up being some kind of new rules to the game. The fact that the problem exists proves that self regulation of the market is not working in this instance and the government will have to step in in order to prevent the citizens from getting screwed by the market failure. Just because GP doesn't have the final answer at this time doesn't mean his comment was senseless at all.
Look on the bright side, when YOUR business finds a way to solve this with a new (presumably unregulated) technical solution you get to make a shitload of money! In the meantime, the government is going to have to hand down an edict that again makes things work for everyone.

Re:"Free" market fail (1)

icebraining (1313345) | about a year ago | (#42155811)

There's no market failure. The market isn't a magical way to create free lunches. It costs more to get a line to rural areas, and someone has to pay for that.

"The government has to step in" is a meaningless statement. The government doesn't have a magic wand that can make rural connectivity as cheap as urban. The only thing they can do is pass the costs to everyone else.

Re:"Free" market fail (1)

kelemvor4 (1980226) | about a year ago | (#42155833)

There's no market failure. The market isn't a magical way to create free lunches. It costs more to get a line to rural areas, and someone has to pay for that.

"The government has to step in" is a meaningless statement. The government doesn't have a magic wand that can make rural connectivity as cheap as urban. The only thing they can do is pass the costs to everyone else.

This isn't a case of the market charging people more in rural areas, it's a case of the market failing and not providing service to people in rural areas. It's more than just an inconvenience - telephone service can be the difference between life and death in emergencies. It's probably much more important than electricity.

Re:"Free" market fail (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42156265)

The market did not fail here. Rather, rural people were upset with the market costs. They CHOSE to live far away from everything, then balked at paying for the infrastructure necessary for phone calls, etc.

They basically lobbied to have people who chose to live in cities pay to prevent them (rurals) from paying the costs of living so far away.

Rural people get the benefits of living far away from dense areas, ie., quieter, possibly less pollution, looser zoning regs, etc. The downside is that they live far away from everything, so everything that they need from the cities can be more expensive ie., anything that involves physical infrastructure-wiring, roads, piping, etc.
They also have to drive farther to get into town-should city people be required to subsidize their fuel a well?

City people choose to live in denser areas-they get the noise, pollution, and less flexibility with zoning. On the other hand, they are closer to things, to they typically pay less and have to drive shorter distances. They reap the rewards and have to bear the burdens of their choice(s).

Rural people apparently get to reap the rewards and benefits of living far away, yet they are somehow entitled to transfer their burdens to everyone. Seems disturbingly unfair. Maybe rural people should be required to pay "urban/suburban housing subsidies" that go towards offsetting rent costs in denser areas.

Re:"Free" market fail (1)

DarkOx (621550) | about a year ago | (#42156935)

telephone service can be the difference between life and death in emergencies.

So can living an hour closer to a hospital. What's point? There are risks, costs, and many benefits to living in any place. Weigh them and take your choice.

Should we have to build a ER in every small town? Do we need a fire station within 5min of ever country house along some road? Where do you draw the line? I have relatives that would probably be alive today if they had access to better emergency services and communications. I don't fault society though, they chose to live where they lived and loved living there.

Re:"Free" market fail (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42156607)

Actually, you city slickers aren't aware that we country mice are already paying two to four times as much for telephone service and internet connectivity as you. It's been like that for decades.

Re:"Free" market fail (3, Informative)

MtHuurne (602934) | about a year ago | (#42155249)

You can't just telll the LD carriers "you must complete this call" if doing so costs them more than they charge.

The long distance carriers should take "you must complete this call" into account when setting their price.

Likewise, the small rural phone companies must receive enough revenue to maintain their operation.

Currently high fixed costs of maintaining the infrastructure are covered by higher per-call costs instead of higher monthly fees. Of course higher monthly fees won't be popular with people living in rural areas, but it would more accurately reflect the actual costs.

The only way this is going to get fixed is if sane regulation is brought to bear.

According to the article, there is regulation on paper but it is not enforced.

Re:"Free" market fail (1)

amorsen (7485) | about a year ago | (#42157029)

The long distance carriers should take "you must complete this call" into account when setting their price.

The challenge is that other carriers can swoop in and pretend to be regular customers, sending precisely the most expensive calls to a provider but using other routes for the rest of the traffic -- "cherry picking". Carriers will typically deactivate the accounts when they discover the cherry picking, but that is a whack-a-mole game. The carriers can just price all calls at slightly above the highest possible termination fee, but then they would not be competitive.

The US can consider itself lucky in one way: there are no ridiculous termination fees for mobiles. Europeans have laughed at the US for years for making people pay for incoming calls, but Americans definitely have the last laugh.

Re:"Free" market fail (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42155519)

I live in a city 1 hour drive from Sacramento, CALIFORNIA and most people still are on dialup, 56K modems, and have no CELL phone reception.
So I agree, until the government FORCES the Teclo oligolpoly to provide us service they never will.
All US citizens should vote the whoring congress people out, so the next batch will listen to us instead of the telco oligopolies

Re:"Free" market fail (1)

Immerman (2627577) | about a year ago | (#42156677)

The problem is finding non-whoring politicians to replace them with. After all they have to pay for all those campaign ads somehow...

Re:"Free" market fail (2)

Miamicanes (730264) | about a year ago | (#42155855)

The solution is actually pretty easy and straightforward... get fiber close enough to 99% of Americans to achieve at least 512kbps down and 192kbps up (minimum guaranteed sustained level of service for each end user into the nearest NAP, with the expectation that real-world speeds would be 4-8 times faster, and "end user" defined in a way that guarantees that a house with 4 human inhabitants could get 2mbps down and 768k up of guaranteed aggregate bandwidth into the nearest big-city NAP), and establish a regulatory framework that lowers the barriers to entry for anyone who wants to get connected to that fiber -- ideally, low enough that even an end user willing to throw down a kilobuck or two for hardware could do an end-run around everyone standing in the way and put his own fixed wireless antenna & transceiver on the (possibly) government-owned tower at the nearest fiber point if necessary. Then resell access to his adjacent neighbors if he felt like it.

Allow companies like AT&T and Comcast to buy wholesale access to that fiber and lay their own fiber, coax, or even just repurpose copper pairs... but ensure that if push came to shove, end users could show them their middle finger, leapfrog over them at their own expense, and peer into the government-laid fiber on the same neutral terms as AT&T or Comcast themselves. Where possible, the government could encourage those big companies to lay the fiber instead, and give them low-interest long-term loans that are contingent upon them offering access to end users on the same neutral common-carrier terms... but also giving the FCC (or its delegate) the authority to seize and operate that infrastructure directly if the company becomes unwilling or unable to (kind of like how the FDIC can seize a bank when it becomes insolvent, and operate it directly under receivership to prevent disruptions for customers who depend on it.

The government shouldn't try to be the ISP of last resort for poor Americans, but it SHOULD strive to eliminate what would otherwise be insurmountable structural barriers to end users who fall through the cracks of AT&T/Comcast's business plans, and lower the bar enough to allow highly-motivated end users to take matters into their own hands without having to depend upon AT&T or Comcast for the solution.

to be expected (0, Troll)

LodCrappo (705968) | about a year ago | (#42154863)

if you live where there are few people, you must either pay a premium for dedicated services or go without.
this isn't new. unless I've missed something, the telcos have no obligation to lose money servicing a handful of remote locations.

if you chose to live in the middle of nothing, you probably are not surprised by the lack of off broadway shows, public transportation, and a wide variety of other things that require a certain population to turn a profit. why should telco services be any different.

Re:to be expected (5, Informative)

msauve (701917) | about a year ago | (#42154925)

"the telcos have no obligation to lose money servicing a handful of remote locations"

Actually, they do. In return, they get things like rights-of-way for running their lines and placing their equipment in areas which are highly profitable.

The telcos have no right to make use of public resources to simply "skim the cream."

Re:to be expected (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42154951)

You're missing the point. These people HAVE phone service, but due to the way phone companies share the money that the calling customers pay for a call across networks, some inbound calls do not connect. When you pay your phone company to call someone on another network, your phone company pays that other network to connect the call. Phone companies charge different rates for that. When there's a mismatch between what the originating network expects to pay and what the terminating network asks, then the call is dropped somewhere along the line where a least cost long distance provider decides that the pay is not enough to cover the costs and render a profit. The callee never knows and the caller just experiences a call not going through.

Re:to be expected (1)

davester666 (731373) | about a year ago | (#42155293)

... least cost long distance provider decides that the pay is not enough to cover the costs and render a large enough profit...

FTFY

Re:to be expected (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42155115)

if you choose to live in an urban area, you must either pay a premium to provide _basic_ infrastructure to rural/agrarian areas or go without food.

your move.

Re:to be expected (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42155183)

last I checked I paid them for the food I eat. They don't pay my city taxes to get things like government and industry, so they should pay me or go without things like government and college educations for their children.

Re:to be expected (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42156309)

Bring it.

There are farms near urban areas. There are also various methods to grow food in cities.

I think what rural people are truly afraid of is having to absorb the full costs and then pass those onto their customers, and have those customers truly understand the REAL costs of buying from so far away.

Right now, portions of rural existence are subsidized in a slightly hidden, involuntary way. Rural people use this to keep their costs appearing low.

While the perceived costs would go up, the actual costs wouldn't change much at all. What it would do is give people who really believe in buy local or grow local, the ability to truly compete now that their competitor(s) aren't being subsidized.

Farmers may also find that they can't squeeze out much of a living if they simply eat their own food and don't sell it to city folks.

Re:to be expected (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42155217)

Right, so we'll just wall you up in your city and check on your status in about five years.

What's that? One big community? Cooperation? No, sorry... if you chose to live in the middle of a concrete jungle, then you should expect to see a complete lack of food, water, and fuel.

Re:to be expected (2)

icebraining (1313345) | about a year ago | (#42155331)

Last time I checked, people in cities paid for all of that.

Re:to be expected (1)

RabidReindeer (2625839) | about a year ago | (#42155467)

Yes, and the more that the farmers have to pay for communications, the more they'll have to charge you for food.

The Internet is not a luxury for farmers these days any more than it is for any other business. We're constantly being bombarded with news stories about how, by virtue of various data services farmers make themselves more productive.

One way or another, however, you - the farm products consumer - end up footing the bill for it. The question is, do you want farmers to have to pay for their data services at retail rates, one farm at a time, or wholesale rates, through some sort of organization?

Re:to be expected (4, Informative)

icebraining (1313345) | about a year ago | (#42155723)

Yes, and the more that the farmers have to pay for communications, the more they'll have to charge you for food.

They already charge me for food. You mean charge more, I assume, but I'm fine with that. Even if we want to help some people who can't afford food, it's much saner to subsidize that (possibly with food stamps) than doing a crazy scheme of indirectly taxing and subsidizing everyone.

The Internet is not a luxury for farmers these days any more than it is for any other business. We're constantly being bombarded with news stories about how, by virtue of various data services farmers make themselves more productive.

Great! If it makes them more productive, that just means it actually costs them less.

One way or another, however, you - the farm products consumer - end up footing the bill for it. The question is, do you want farmers to have to pay for their data services at retail rates, one farm at a time, or wholesale rates, through some sort of organization?

However they want, I don't presume to decide for them. Farmers are not children, and they are much more informed than me about their local rates and whether it'd make sense or not to form a co-op.

Re:to be expected (1)

Lumpy (12016) | about a year ago | (#42155223)

Sounds like a plan, so when is the telcos going to pay back all that public money we gave them to build out the rural system?
Because they owe all of it back WITH INTEREST if they go with your really stupid plan.

Re:to be expected (1)

sjames (1099) | about a year ago | (#42155251)

Good luck with that eating habit when the farmers move to the city.

Meanwhile, I guess if the telcos are not going to have any special responsibilities anymore, they get no special privileges.It seems there's a minor matter of all that copper they buried in my yard without paying rent. I guess I'll sell it on ebay.

Re:to be expected (1)

icebraining (1313345) | about a year ago | (#42155371)

If some farmers move to the city, the others will raise their prices, and then the city people will have the choice of lowering their consumption or paying more, instead of being forced to pay for everyone in rural areas, regardless of whether they actually produce food or not.

Re:to be expected (1)

sjames (1099) | about a year ago | (#42156321)

Yes, because more expensive food is so good for everyone! Especially the poor. The sooner we starve them out the better!

Meanwhile I'll be off practicing some free market with that 'abandoned' copper in my yard!

Re:to be expected (1)

icebraining (1313345) | about a year ago | (#42156767)

As I said elsewhere, if we want to help the poor buy food, we should do just that, and not use a crazy scheme that helps them only very indirectly, and wastes most of the money.

That argument is just a different type of "think of the children!!"

Re:to be expected (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42155541)

It goes both ways..
People in rural areas have to pay for beltways, bridges, tunnels, stadiums, subways, security and police in the populated areas too..

I say this as someone from northern VA that pays for a very high percentage of services that that are used elsewhere in the state.
Including this massive road http://www.roadstothefuture.com/US29-Lynchburg-Madison-Heights.html [roadstothefuture.com] in a sparcely populated area while here in congested northern VA we can not "afford" to build any roads or improvements without selling out to companies to make for profits on HOT lanes.

Least Cost Routing, not ICBA Routing (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42154915)

Hang on - it's 'least cost routing'. That means you do it for as little cost as you can mange, not that you only do it as long as it costs less than some arbitrary threshold.

If you can't route it for more than what you charge (on average) then you're not charging enough. You can't just drop the call!
 

Re:Least Cost Routing, not ICBA Routing (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42155039)

Hang on - it's 'least cost routing'. That means you do it for as little cost as you can mange, not that you only do it as long as it costs less than some arbitrary threshold.

If you can't route it for more than what you charge (on average) then you're not charging enough. You can't just drop the call!

Sure you can, as long as the FCC doesn't catch you.

Scapegoat (2)

Spazmania (174582) | about a year ago | (#42154921)

Baloney. If least cost routing were at fault VoIP services like Vonage would fail long before a rural telco. Whatever the problem is at Shoreham Telephone it has nothing to do with least cost routing and everything to do with their technical infrastructure and choice of direct vendors.

Re:Scapegoat (1)

Jmc23 (2353706) | about a year ago | (#42154957)

Why would Vonage fail? Are you saying that the profitability of Vonage lies in not well connected rural areas?

Re:Scapegoat (1)

anon mouse-cow-aard (443646) | about a year ago | (#42155239)

You didn't read the article. It's not IP level least cost routing, it is Voice traffic carriers picking the "cheapest" (in terms of the complicated inter-phone company charging rules.)

Re:Scapegoat (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42156429)

Seeing as I know the guy who built their infrastructure, and he's one of the best network guys in New England, it ain't their infrastructure that is the problem.

No wonder...... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42154929)

Imagine that. I can't terminate a call to your little telco for less than 2.9-3.6 cents per minute. I CAN'T get away with charging customers this. The only real solution is to send calls to the CHEAPEST carrier available and average out the losses against a more popular calling destination.

What burns me is this guy bitching about call quality terminating to their telco BECAUSE of the telco's outrageous termination rates. Then the guy tries to play it off on the PUC, meanwhile knowing full well that they submit the rates for approval before the commission who sets the MAXIMUM rates.....

Re:No wonder...... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42155139)

What burns me is this guy bitching about call quality terminating to their telco BECAUSE of the telco's outrageous termination rates.

But if we don't charge long-distance carriers ridiculous termination rates, we'll have to charge our customers who choose to live in the boonies the cost of providing phone service to the boonies!

This is in the US, right? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42154991)

Just checking... Not relevant to the rest of the world eh.

Re:This is in the US, right? (2)

lennier1 (264730) | about a year ago | (#42155021)

Stuff going on in countries with a less developed communications infrastructure can still be of value to the rest of us.

Part of it is that (2)

kilodelta (843627) | about a year ago | (#42155027)

The little local companies that completed the calls were getting astronomical call termination rates. They milked the cow until it was dry.

So we need to revisit the termination scheme for telecom. Otherwise what will happen is that you won't be able to complete calls into the backwaters of the U.S. Only serves them right for getting greedy!

Re:Part of it is that (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42155663)

How high are the termination fees? And who sets the fees?

Just for comparison, effective today the new termination fees to landline numbers in Germany are between 0.25 and 0.61 euro cent. The fees are set by the federal network agency and of course with every fee reduction the carriers are bitching.

Re:Part of it is that (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42156201)

Accoding to the wiki article on traffic pumping, termination rates to rural carriers can be as much as 10 to 20 cents per minute. Although generally they average around 3 to 5 cents per minute.

Yup - That's Us (5, Informative)

vinn (4370) | about a year ago | (#42155055)

I live in southwest Montana and we're serviced by a rural telephone co-op. I work in Big Sky, Montana, and you might recognize that name because it's one of the biggest ski resorts in the country. This problem didn't really exist three years ago and has increased significantly in just the past year. For those of you unfamiliar with rural telephone co-ops, here's a smattering of what it's like.. because it's QUITE different than dealing with carriers or even your local CLEC:

1. Rural telephone co-ops are exempt from the 1995 Telecommunications Act. That means all sorts of things, one of which was they were until very recently exempt from providing E911 service. (This is something your local PSAP probably takes for granted. We're about 15 years behind the times.)
2. We can't call a lot of Google Voice numbers. I'm not sure why. Possibly it's because the local co-op has a problem with their dial plan settings, that happens. However, some Google Voice numbers do work. It's just weird.
3. There's a lot of companies that provide hosted toll free numbers and provide both ACD-like services as well as collecting ANI so you can run all kinds of nice reports. We use services like that and increasingly we've run into a lot of problems because sometimes they outright can't transfer calls to our local DID's. Typically those kind of companies use cheapo LD carriers, but they also usually have a few PRI's with major carriers like AT&T. We usually have to request they change their default routing to use one of those carriers instead.
4. On the flipside, we have surprisingly good Internet service. Three years ago we put in a 50x5Mbps connection and this year we augmented it with a 26x1. All of that service costs us $500 a month. That's not as spectacular of a deal as it was 3 years ago, but considering where we are, it's pretty impressive. At home, I've got fiber to our house - not bad for a community of 838 people.

Re:Yup - That's Us (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42155159)

If you got fiber to your house why are you bothering with regular telephones AT ALL.

Cut the phone, use skype or something and that's the end of it.

Re:Yup - That's Us (2)

vinn (4370) | about a year ago | (#42155809)

See my other reply for more details. But specifically:

1. We don't really have a home phone. My wife and I only have cell phones. However, we are required to have an analog telephone line because we have Internet service at home. We don't use it, but the rural telephone co-op ONLY sells their Internet service bundled with phone service. Let me repeat that - it's not possible to purchase unbundled DSL here. They are not an ILEC, so someone like Covad has no access to the local loop. Since they have a monopoly, they can require that and further, because phone service is regulated by the FCC and by providing it, the rural telephone co-op gets USF funds. I think they get like $50 a month from the USF just for providing phone service to our house that we don't use. That's on top of the $45 a month we pay for the PHONE service. So technically I could hook up an analog phone in the house, but I don't want to deal with another phone number in my life, there's no reason for it.

Realistically, there are no other Internet providers here. Satellite is too slow, we use too much data for our 3G cell service. We don't have cable. So our service at home is super expensive compared to elsewhere, but it is pretty good. Their pricing is super weird, so at work we have relatively inexpensive service for what we're getting.

2. Regarding at work, see my other reply. We can't port our numbers to another provider, and that's a problem. Switching numbers is a pain in the ass, but it's something we'll likely contemplate in the next year as we both clean up our published numbers (we used to have over 50 published numbers, I think we're down to about 10 now.) Setting up call forwarding on 50 numbers for a few years would be really expensive, but for 10 numbers it becomes feasible.

The problem of using Skype (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42155865)

Apart from the fact that Microsoft has access to your call history, is that for calls from Skype to non-Skype numbers have to experience what we here in the UK call the 'last mile'.
This is the POTS line that the Telco supplies and are increasling reluctant to support in the USA. Some of my friends live in the boondocks near Ely Nevada. Calling them is pure pot luck. I get through to other friends in Kazakhstan more reliably.

(POTS = Plain old telephone service).

As an aside, BT (The incumbent UK Telecoms supplier) has just replaced all the Poles and All the overhead wires in my street. As a result, my broadband went from 60Mbits to 85Mbits just because the line losses went down from 15dB to 8dB.

What is the solution to this problem for rural/boonies users in the US?
Apart from setting up your own local carrier and encouraging WiMax type cell infrastrucure (and possibly get sued by the likes of AT&T) or even your own microwave links, there is not much you can do.
A close friend of mine own 16K acres about 3 miles south of the nearest highway. He has a microwave link to a relay tower. IT cost him $12K to install. The telco wanted $35K to install a line capable of 19.2K dialup. When the local carrier found out they threatened to sue him for breaking their local monopoly. As he is a retired Corporate Lawyer, they soon backed down. Even so, the endpoint of the link that connects to the relay tower is no longer his property despite him funding it completely.

Re:Yup - That's Us (1)

aaarrrgggh (9205) | about a year ago | (#42155285)

Can't the co-op terminate calls with anybody they choose? If you have a pipe, why wouldn't you tunnel SIP to the provider with the best/cheapest fees? "Peer" with local co-ops directly, and maybe even set up a clearinghouse for co-ops that brokers interconnects with the LECs and CLECs.

Re:Yup - That's Us (1)

vinn (4370) | about a year ago | (#42155673)

There's some things I don't understand, but this is my take:

1. I have no idea why some Google Voice calls don't terminate. Something at the IXC / ILEC level probably comes into play and I don't understand how IXC's work here and what the relationship really is between our co-op and the ILEC (originally US West). My guess would be they're small and without much depth.
2. Regarding, "If you have a pipe", do you mean us or the carriers? The reason we're not tunneling SIP is we have a traditional PBX (actually 4 of them interconnected with VOIP trunks internally and all sharing a PRI and some analog CO trunks for outbound). So we can't terminate SIP directly. Furthermore, because our local telco is a rural telephone co-op, and like I mentioned, exempt from the 1996 Telecommunications Act, * we have no number portability *. At all. Anywhere. So all of our published telephone numbers, which are very important for our business, would have to be ripped and replaced. (Not quite as bad as it seems because we could pay for call forwarding and probably still save some money, but still.. it's a pain in the ass.)

Regarding why our rural telephone co-op doesn't tunnel SIP to providers with cheap/best fees. Well, I don't know. Heck, maybe they even have started doing that. I suspect they don't though. It's also possible that there are things that come into play with the Universal Service Fund and FCC regs that give them extremely low-priced connections to big providers, so much so that perhaps SIP providers would be even more expensive. That's just speculation.

3. Regarding "peering", in the telco world tradionally that's an IXC function carried out at the ILEC level. Like I said, I don't really know how that works here.

However, peering on the data side is actually pretty cool and I do know how that works. A while back, all of the rural telephone co-ops in Montana got together and formed Vision.net . They pooled their resources and Vision.net acts as the ISP for those co-ops. So they're the ones that peer with the big pipes to the outside world. I believe all of those services are unregulated, so one of the side effects is our rural telephone co-op requires any unregulated data service to be purchased with regulated phone service - then the co-op gets USF money for providing a line to the customer, which they couldn't do otherwise. Anyway, here's a service map for our state: http://www.vision.net/network-services/transport-services/transport-services-map [vision.net]

Re:Yup - That's Us (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42156995)

I have no idea why some Google Voice calls don't terminate.

Very simple. When caller and callee are customers of different phone companies, the caller's phone company pays the callee's phone company for their part of the connection. This is called the termination rate. Some networks charge more than others for terminating inbound calls to their customers. Some networks refuse to connect calls to networks which charge high termination rates.

Re:Yup - That's Us (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42155305)

Then the best phone for you, if internet is so good is VOIP like Vonage.
Why mess around I am no expert but I bet there is VOIP for the business end of phone systems too.

Pay for your own infrastructure (5, Insightful)

alen (225700) | about a year ago | (#42155117)

The boonies are usually red areas that vote republican and spout off nonsense about being independent of Obama and the evil liberals who suck up all the money

Here is your chance to practice what you preach
Pay for your lifestyle

Re:Pay for your own infrastructure (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42155409)

How can they when they are taxed of any money they could possibly have to pay for condoms for Sandra Fluk?

Re:Pay for your own infrastructure (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42155589)

did Rush allow you to swallow his jizz?

Re:Pay for your own infrastructure (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42156221)

Are you telling me that, swallowing the jizz is a privilege, not a right?

Re:Pay for your own infrastructure (1)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | about a year ago | (#42156419)

So, they voted the "wrong" way and now we get to take revenge on them? How does that work?

Don't worry though - any overly bright kid with Future Farmers of America, 4-H Club, or ROTC on his college admission will be refused entry to the Ivy League [theamerica...vative.com] . Like you say, it's important to punish these people for living in rural areas.

Re:Pay for your own infrastructure (3, Informative)

Microlith (54737) | about a year ago | (#42156597)

So, they voted the "wrong" way and now we get to take revenge on them? How does that work?

No, he's just pointing out that they're hypocrites.

Re:Pay for your own infrastructure (1)

Loopy (41728) | about a year ago | (#42156613)

Here is your chance to practice what you preach
Pay for your lifestyle

What the hell do you think we did before people got all up in our junk with taxes to support the inner-city welfare state? Here's a hint: counties didn't have road-grade equipment until recently, let alone right-of-way zones. We managed to make it through the industrial revolution with limited support from Washington and lower taxes; funny we can't live without 'em today, isn't it?

Also, guess what? Our fire department (what there is of it) doesn't see a dime from county, state or federal taxes: it's all volunteer. We also don't see a dime of federal money for sewage, water, etc. So, tell me again what my taxes are paying for?

Re:Pay for your own infrastructure (3, Insightful)

Solandri (704621) | about a year ago | (#42156937)

"Practice what you preach" only works in totality. Say I'm a landlord and raise the rent from $700/mo to $800/mo, but I now pay for the utilities instead of the tenants having to pay. If a tenant complains that he'd prefer to pay his own utilities and keep his rent at $700/mo, I cannot make him pay his own utilities and raise his rent to $800/mo and say I'm just making him practice what he preaches. I cannot consider what I want and what he wants, take only the parts which favor me, and truthfully call it making him practice what he preaches. I'm gonna have to let him pay his own utilities but keep his rent at $700/mo.

59 percent (5, Insightful)

fermion (181285) | about a year ago | (#42155133)

Let me say this as nicely as I can. 59% of rural votes went for Romeny. In my state, while Obama won the urban counties, the win in many rural counties was way North of 60%. Now, what were they voting for. Were they voting for smaller government and lower taxes, or just voting against minorities who steal tax dollars. I don't know, but the reality is that these people voting for a candidate who did not support the federal government building infrastructure that makes the US urban areas strong. So why do they expect the urban people to pay taxes so they can get cheap calls?

And cheap calls is all it is. They want to pay the same as everyone else. Look, I spent a lot of time living in rural areas in the US and elsewhere. I know the issues. I know the costs. But I am not asking anyone else to pay costs that I choose in incur. In other countries you have phone service. You just pay for a cell phone. And if you have to you pay for a booster station. That is all there is too it. There are very few areas in the US that have no cell reception, and I am sure most would work with a booster. Hell, in my house I don't have good cell reception. Do I go to the feds and demand a personal booster?

If you want reliable phone, do what others have done. Form a cooperative. Pull fiber to the community, and then have the individuals pull wire to their properties. Say this is too expensive, say that the feds should pay for it? Well them maybe you should vote for a liberal government who will tax enough to fund it?

What I feel is really funny is that somehow taxpayers are expected to foot the bill so that people can just pick up the phone whenever they want to just to chat, and we are expected to pay for that entitlement. Give me a break. When I was growing up we often did not talk to our extended family. Why? Because it was expensive and we could not afford it. Maybe once a week on sunday morning, but that was it. I guess we had the advantage is that we were literate so we wrote letters.

I normally am much more receptive to these complaints. We are a rich country so we should have universal reliable communication, health care, education, transportation, teleportation, rib eye, Helly Hansen clothing, but given that those people just voted in great majority against it, it seems a little over the top.

Re:59 percent (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42155265)

Stop with all this reality crap, the rich old retired ranchers want it both ways. But prefer to bitch about the damn dirty minorities stealing their money...

it's why I consider most republicans uneducated bigots.

RTFA (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42155391)

The rural areas already have service installed and wire/firbe pulled to their homes. They have no need for federal assistance and who they voted for has NOTHING to do with this. (Can we please get past this election stupidity.)

The issue is that because the routes to rural services cost more, many carriers and long distance providers will not route calls to them. That means that when Jr. moves to NYC and leaves Granny in BFE, Jr. can't call Granny. She has service and she can call him in NYC, but Verizon or L3 doesn't route calls back to BFE because they deem the route cost too high.

There are two appropriate solutions:
1. Verizon eats the higher cost of the route. They "lose" money and won;t do that.

2. Verizon passes the higher charges onto the customer. That's "hard" and since the customer is on a "Free Nationwide Long Distance Plan" they are likely to take issue if Verizon charges them extra.

Re:RTFA (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42155913)

"Free Nationwide Long Distance Plan". read that again. You are saying it is ok for Verizon to sell a "Free Nationwide Long Distance Plan" and then refuse to route certain calls because it is to expensive.
I call that fraud. It is bait and switch. They can either not sell the plan at all or increase the price of it to cover their costs.

Re:RTFA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42156011)

"Free Nationwide Long Distance Plan". read that again. You are saying it is ok for Verizon to sell a "Free Nationwide Long Distance Plan" and then refuse to route certain calls because it is to expensive.
I call that fraud. It is bait and switch. They can either not sell the plan at all or increase the price of it to cover their costs.

No I'm not OK with it. It is fraud, but Verizon et al are perfectly OK with it. Their wireless divisions are also OK with limiting "Unlimited" service.

Re:RTFA (2)

Waffle Iron (339739) | about a year ago | (#42156007)

No, the actual fair and correct solution is:

3. Rural customers' bills are increased to the point where they cover the extra costs for small-scale operations and more miles of wire per house. This may mean charging the rural customers per-minute for incoming long distance calls.

Telcos from the boonies then have the funds so they can afford to charge their peers reasonable market rates for routing calls. Calls don't get dropped anymore.

Re:RTFA (1)

DarkOx (621550) | about a year ago | (#42157063)

Why is more reasonable to charge loop customers more but not carriers? Seriously if Verizon and AT&T want to offer sell unlimited nation wide LD they should either build out the last mile infrastructure themselves or pay the MARKET rate for call termination in that area.

Re:RTFA (1)

DarkOx (621550) | about a year ago | (#42157051)

Right in this case its not the rural customer that is being subsided here. They are paying for their service, and their operator is providing termination to other carriers. Its these other carriers who don't like the rates. The problem is they want to offer unlimited nation wide long distance dirt cheap. Well then they either need to charge more or eat some margin when customers make high cost calls to rural telephone operators.

The problem is not the folks in BFE, it Jr. in NYC is not willing to pay the costs to make a call there, or is carrier isn't.

Re:59 percent (2)

PhamNguyen (2695929) | about a year ago | (#42156335)

Let me say this as nicely as I can. 59% of rural votes went for Romeny. In my state, while Obama won the urban counties, the win in many rural counties was way North of 60%. Now, what were they voting for. Were they voting for smaller government and lower taxes, or just voting against minorities who steal tax dollars. I don't know, but the reality is that these people voting for a candidate who did not support the federal government building infrastructure that makes the US urban areas strong. So why do they expect the urban people to pay taxes so they can get cheap calls?

Hold up a second. Are you suggesting that which presidential candidate a particular geographical regions voted for, should affect federal spending on that region? That is seriously insane. And your insinuation that people living in rural areas are racist is also similarly ridiculous.

Re:59 percent (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42156485)

Why wouldn't that be the case? In the last 4 years there has been regulation and taxation on business/industry that didn't support Obama while tax cuts and hand outs for those that did. I'm sure you heard GE pay no taxes anymore, most of that from policies on "green energy" specifically designed to help them do that. Or take the guitar industry, Gibson Guitar (not a DNC supporter) has been raided twice and had over a million dollars of wood seized. Fender, a union pro-DNC shop, does the same things with wood and was not raided once or had anything seized.

We live in a dictatorship where if you don't support the right guy anymore you will be destroyed. The original poster is merely saying what is already factual.

Surprise! (1)

faedle (114018) | about a year ago | (#42155169)

Customers want to pay a cheaper rate for phone calls. Imagine that!

Wouldn't it be great if we had a defacto monopoly that made sure that there was adequate revenue from long-distance calls to subsidize local service in rural areas, so that it wouldn't cost $300 per month to have a telephone? High-volume users would, of course, be paying for all the infrastructure to complete calls. It might even have side effects, like if phone calls were more expensive it might cut down on telemarketing (because it would be less profitable). There'd be a lot of accountability in the system by default, as one company would be in control of all aspects of the call. If something broke, the customer had one number to call (hey, maybe make it an easy to dial number like 611 or something!), regardless of whether the problem was with their instrument, their local loop, or a trunking problem on the long distance lines. We'd need, of course, to regulate this company to ensure that they don't use their monopoly power excessively. But the upside is, this company could be (in effect) a research and development powerhouse. Who knows. This company might even do something radical like invent microelectronics as we know it, or create a powerful operating system that everybody emulates.

Wait.

The real victims are the customers (2)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42155517)

I work for a small rural telecom, and we deal with this issue quite literally every week. Someone who lives out in what most would consider the middle of nowhere, ends up having a call completion issue. And who do they blame? Their telephone company, of course. After all, we provide the telephone service, and people assume that a paid service is supposed to just work. Telling these people to move back to a city is ridiculous also, as many of them are running farms or performing other (sometimes astronomy related work in my state) tasks that can't be done in a city.

The real problem is that long distance providers often don't want to even work with us on the issue. We can call up CenturyLink, for example, and they will tell us that they're unable to work with us directly. We have to tell person A, who initiated the call that person B was unable to receive and is complaining about, that they need to complain to CenturyLink. The person who initiates the call that did not go through properly has to initiate the complaint. And why would they do that, since they're able to call everyone else without issue? Clearly person B has an issue with their service.

In short, it's a giant cluster-f. I'm tired of having to tell people who pay money for their service that some larger telecom can't get its sh*t together. Meanwhile, we check every copper line from the CO to the customer sometimes because we want to give the benefit of the doubt and ensure the customer isn't having another issue, and it comes down to call completion problems. Honestly, I think the FCC should be forcing long distance carriers to pay for the time wasted due to their incompetence. The issue would get fixed a lot faster that way.

Spanning Trees (2)

CyberRacer (2785775) | about a year ago | (#42155979)

Haven't the telcos ever heard of "Lowest Cost Spanning Trees?". This is what's done in internet routers to prevent exactly the kinds of infinite loops causing the problems there. Spanning trees still provide the carriers with the best available pricing for a given set of call end points over the available routers, but also ensure that infinite loops don't occur within the network, thus providing proper connectivity to the end user.

I have GMAVT (Waitsfield Telecom) 'service" (2)

Lawrence_Bird (67278) | about a year ago | (#42156115)

Nice people. They try hard. But. Their services are overpriced and not reliable. You are forced into a landline, like it or not, to get dsl. (that landline runs 17.50 plus about 7.50 in FCC garbage which is pretty much what Verizoff charges in other locations). The DSL service is marginal. What is described as 'up to 6 Mbps' is in fact.. (for me) below 3 as the data transmission is unreliable faster than that. Their cable service is.. dreadful? Often goes out of service for long periods. While we all understand the economics of remote/rural telecoms, people should also keep in mind that Waitsfield Telecom has actively fought to keep other providers out of our service area. They could have competition but they have made sure they do not have it. The years of nobody else wanting to try to serve our area are gone over but as customers, we are denied those choices becasue it would likely mean the wend of Waitsfield Telecom.

toll quality calling (1)

speedlaw (878924) | about a year ago | (#42156855)

I know I'm showing my age, but I really miss toll quality calls. You know, the polar opposite of the typical...hello....it'sssss bbbsx ... ble b. sors and then....s t boob bleeep blorp. So we'll meet then. bye....click
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