But Democratic FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn said that the fine was too little considering the harm that they caused. Although T-Mobile reported to the FCC that the problems had been 'resolved, ' the Commission continued to receive complaints that calls were failing.
Reportedly, T-Mobile has accepted that its erroneous telephone ringtones on the long-distance calls across rural areas had impacted the lives of many people along with violating the FCC laws.
"It is a basic tenet of the nation's phone system that calls be completed to the called party, without a reduction in the call quality-even when the calls pass through intermediate providers", FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said in a statement.
This would have given the impression that the calls were going unanswered rather than not connecting.
T-Mobile said that the issue was "unintentional" and has been "corrected" since January 2017.
NTCA-The Rural Broadband Association praised the FCC announcement.
T-Mobile told the FCC that in 2007 it began using servers that included a "Local Ring Back Tone" for calls from certain customers that took more than a certain amount of time to complete.
An interesting twist that I have not seen in other articles, however, is the connection (no pun intended) between this matter of completing rural phone calls - or otherwise letting callers know when their calls can not be completed - and the matter of completing so-called "robocalls" to all called parties (not just those in rural areas).
In July, the FCC said "given the relatively high rates long-distance providers incur to terminate long-distance calls to rural carriers, long-distance providers have an incentive to reduce the per-minute cost of calls". The FCC charged that when calls couldn't be completed, T-Mobile inserted ring tones so that the caller would think the call had gone through, but no one answered.
Intermediate carriers compete largely on price and can offer lower prices if they avoid paying terminating access charges to carriers serving call recipients in rural areas by failing to deliver calls to the rural areas.