Phone companies were on the hook for millions of dollars Monday as the Federal Communications Commission signaled Verizon had agreed to pay $5 million to settle an agency inquiry into the telco's alleged failure to investigate rural call completion issues, and that the agency is fining Advanced Tel Inc. almost $1.6 million for failing to pay Universal Service Fund fees.
“All phone companies are required to participate in universal access programs so that consumers everywhere have access to critical telecommunications services,” said Travis LeBlanc, Enforcement Bureau chief, of the Advanced Tel fine. “Service providers who flagrantly avoid these responsibilities damage these programs and the public interest, and we demonstrate today that we will hold them accountable.”
Of the Verizon settlement, LeBlanc said: “All Americans, no matter where they are located, have a right to make and receive phone calls. Phone companies are on notice that the FCC will hold them accountable for failures to investigate and ensure that calls go through to the rural heartland of the country.”