T-Mobile fined $40 million for deceiving rural callers

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T-Mobile will pay $40 million to the Federal Communications Commission as part of a settlement reached over its dubious practices with long-distance calls to rural destinations.

The initial complaints came from three regional carriers serving Wisconsin and consumers who said that T-Mobile customers’ calls failed to connect to the area. While T-Mobile claimed that it had “resolved” the issue, the FCC continued to receive complaints from several rural areas.

The most insidious action the Un-carrier took was that it inserted ring tones to make callers think they made a successful connection to a rural recipient but failed to reach them, when in fact the call never successfully connected. T-Mobile said that this practice was performed on “hundreds of millions of calls” and admitted to violating FCC rules on false ring tones. It’s not clear how many of these calls connected.

T-Mobile, the third-largest carrier by subscribership, has historically had the worst network coverage. It has had to rely on roaming partners to cover a lot of rural ground. With new 600MHz spectrum licenses it has recently obtained, though, the carrier may be hoping to build out its cell and retail presence in places it hasn’t been before and, perhaps, barge into smaller markets to compete with local players.

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About The Author
Jules Wang
Jules Wang is News Editor for Pocketnow and one of the hosts of the Pocketnow Weekly Podcast. He came onto the team in 2014 as an intern editing and producing videos and the podcast while he was studying journalism at Emerson College. He graduated the year after and entered into his current position at Pocketnow, full-time.