In an effort to help families and businesses in rural Minnesota who are experiencing dropped calls and poor service quality on their landlines, last week U.S. Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) started pushing the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to force telephone providers to improve service in rural areas.

"Families and businesses in rural Minnesota have the same right to high-quality, reliable telephone service as everyone else," said Franken.

"Dropped calls and poor service quality often result in lost income for rural businesses, and many families rely on their landlines in case of emergency. That's why I'm pushing the FCC to do everything they can to make sure that telephone companies deliver the service that rural customers are paying for."

In a letter, Franken urged the FCC to investigate providers who have significantly higher failure rates for rural customers, to look into providers who may use "least cost routing services," which cut provider costs but may impact service and to enforce existing rules that aim to improve service to rural customers.

The full text of Franken's letter to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, which was signed by a bipartisan group of 36 senators, is available at http://franken.senate.gov/files/letter/121203_FCC_Call_Completion.pdf.

Editor's note: this is additional information sent out by the NTCA concerning this issue:

A letter to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski was signed by a bipartisan group of 34 senators. Congressional leaders urged the commission to take a number of immediate steps including expediting investigation efforts, releasing data acquired so far as a result of investigations, requiring originating carriers to submit network performance data and taking action against violators.

The letter is the result of a grassroots campaign spearheaded by the National Telecommunications Cooperative Association (NTCA) members to build support in Congress for restoring quality service in rural areas and preserving the basic integrity of our nation's communications network.

For more information on this issue visit the NTCA's call termination page at www.ntca.org.