- Associated Press - Saturday, February 25, 2017

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) - U.S. senators from South Dakota, Minnesota and Montana are pushing a bill that would address the problem of dropped rural cellphone calls.

Carrie Johnson of SDN Communications told the Argus Leader (https://argusne.ws/2laGC58 ) that about 80 percent of South Dakota’s land area is impacted by the issue.

“If you’re a rural business and you lost a business opportunity, sometimes you don’t even know it,” Johnson said.

She said more resources are needed to operate networks without the customer base to support it.

Now, Republican Sen. John Thune, Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar and Democratic Sen. John Tester have reintroduced a bipartisan bill that failed to make the floor before the end of last year’s session.

“For most Americans, grabbing the phone, dialing a number, and waiting for someone to pick up on the other end is a task as routine as they come,” Thune said. “But believe it or not, for a lot of folks who live in rural states like South Dakota, call completion and reliability can still be a challenge today.”

The bill would require the Federal Communications Commission to establish minimum standards for quality in voice call transmission. It would also require least cost routers to register with the commission and ban telecom companies from using unregistered intermediaries.

Last month, the proposed bill passed out of the Senate Commerce Committee, and companion legislation has passed through the House of Representatives.

It’s unclear when the bill could appear for debate on the Senate floor.


Information from: Argus Leader, https://www.argusleader.com

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