H.R. 2566, Improving Rural Call Quality and Reliability Act of 2015

H.R. 2566

Improving Rural Call Quality and Reliability Act of 2015

Date
November 14, 2016 (114th Congress, 2nd Session)

Staff Contact
John Huston

Floor Situation

On­­­­ Monday, November 14, 2016, the House will consider H.R. 2566, the Improving Rural Call Quality and Reliability Act of 2015, under suspension of the rules. H.R. 2566 was introduced on May 21, 2015, by Rep. David Young (R-IA) and was referred to the Committee on Energy and Commerce, which ordered the bill reported, as amended, by voice vote on September 21, 2016.

Bill Summary

H.R. 2566 would require 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.

Background

Intermediate phone providers choose the least costly route to direct long-distance calls throughout the American telecom infrastructure in order to save money. These long distance calls are routed to least-cost routers located throughout the U.S., and then the calls are routed to their final destination. In some instances the calls are never able to connect and when they do connect the quality of the call can be compromised.[1] Intermediate phone providers are not currently required to register with the FCC or meet phone call quality standards. H.R. 2566 will require intermediate providers to register with the FCC and to meet call quality standards.

According to the bill’s sponsor, “Many folks across rural America face the disadvantages of phone service that is of poor quality, or doesn’t even connect. My bipartisan legislation seeks to fix this problem, and help Iowans and all Americans living in rural areas connect with phone service that is reliable and consistent.”[2]

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[1] See TDS article, “Has Congress finally answered the call?” September 28, 2016.
[2] See Rep. David Young’s Press Release, “Young’s Rural Connectivity Bill Passes U.S. House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee,” September 13, 2016.

Cost

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates enacting H.R. 2566 would cost $3 million over the 2017-2021 period. However, under current law the FCC is authorized to collect fees sufficient to offset the cost of its regulatory activities each year. Therefore, CBO estimates that the net cost to implement H.R. 2566 would be negligible, assuming annual appropriation actions consistent with the agency’s authorities.

Additional Information

For questions or further information please contact John Huston with the House Republican Policy Committee by email or at 6-5539.