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S. 96: Improving Rural Call Quality and Reliability Act of 2017

From the summary for the companion bill H.R. 460: H.R. 460 requires third-party intermediate providers who offer the capability of transmitting covered voice communication to register with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Third-party intermediate providers work by carrying long distance phone calls in rural areas between providers such as Verizon, AT&T;, and Sprint. The bill also requires the FCC to issue rules establishing service quality standards for those providers, in an attempt to increase phone service reliability in rural areas.

Last updated Mar 18, 2017. Source: Republican Policy Committee

The summary below was written by the Congressional Research Service, which is a nonpartisan division of the Library of Congress, and was published on Feb 27, 2018.


(This measure has not been amended since it was reported to the Senate on March 21, 2017. The summary of that version is repeated here.)

Improving Rural Call Quality and Reliability Act of 2017

(Sec. 2) This bill amends the Communications Act of 1934 to require intermediate providers that offer the capability to transmit voice communications and signaling information from one destination to another, and that charge a rate to any other entity (including an affiliated entity) for such a transmission, to: (1) register with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), and (2) comply with service quality standards to be established by the FCC.

An "intermediate provider" is an entity that: (1) enters a business arrangement with a long-distance voice service provider that makes the initial call path choice for more than 100,000 domestic retail subscriber lines, or with another intermediate provider, to carry, route, or transmit voice traffic from a call placed from or to an end user connection using a North American Numbering Plan resource; and (2) does not itself (directly or in conjunction with an affiliate) serve as such a long-distance initial call path choice provider in the context of originating or terminating a given call.

The bill prohibits such long-distance providers (including local exchange carriers, interexchange carriers, commercial mobile radio services, interconnected voice over Internet Protocol [VoIP] services, and certain non-interconnected VoIP services) from using an intermediate provider to transmit voice communications and signals unless the intermediate provider is so registered.

The FCC must: (1) ensure the integrity of the transmission of voice communications to all customers in the United States, (2) prevent unjust or unreasonable discrimination among areas of the United States in the delivery of such voice communications, and (3) make a registry of intermediate providers publicly available on the FCC website.

The bill shall not be construed to preempt or expand the authority of a state agency or public utility commission to collect data, or enforce state law and regulations, regarding the completion of intrastate voice communications.

Certain long-distance providers that make initial call path choices are exempt from service quality standards that the FCC is required to establish under this bill if they certify under a safe harbor provision in existing FCC rules that they monitor the performance of, or do not use, intermediate providers.