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Call Completion FAQ

Not receiving some incoming long distance calls? It’s a nationwide problem.

What are call completion issues?

These are issues that are referred to in the telecommunications industry as “call completion” or “call termination” problems. These problems affect the transmission and completion of long distance calls placed to customers. It’s a nationwide problem that is affecting customers in at least 38 states.

Why does this problem exist?

In order to lower their costs, some providers are making use of “Least-cost routing”.  Simply put, this means that when they send calls through their network, they choose the cheapest path available for completing their portion of the phone call. This may be cheaper for the carrier routing the call, but it may also lead to poorer service quality for you. Recently some providers have been using bad routes, or intentionally dropping calls because they would travel along more expensive paths to rural locations.  Examples of how this can be experienced by the callers include:

  • Unusually long call set up times, sometimes as long as 50 seconds
  • Calls that have only dead air when you answered
  • Garbled, one way or otherwise poor quality voice on completed calls
  • Calls terminating to a “number has been disconnected” recording when the line is still in service
  • Inability to receive faxes
  • Missing or altered Caller ID information

The problems can occur on calls originating from a variety of telephone technologies including land-line, wireless, cable, and Voice over Internet Protocol services (VoIP). We want you to know that the issue does not reside with HBC. Every call that we receive is delivered to the customer. Our network is state of the art and constantly tested and reliable. If a call hits our network, it is completed. Ultimately, the long distance carrier of the calling customer is responsible for delivering the call to the local phone provider. Until that call is delivered, there is nothing your local phone service provider can do with the call.

What can I do about this?

Report the problem. As a consumer, your best action is to report each “call completion” incident. Please document each time the problem occurs. The information we need to know includes the following:

  • The phone number attempting to call you and their long distance provider
  • If possible, identify whether the call was made on a landline phone, wireless, cable, or from a Voice over Internet Protocol provider (VoIP)
  • Your phone number
  • Date/time of call attempt

You can submit this information to us by emailing the support team or by calling (877) 457-9669. This information will help our efforts to get the problem resolved over the long term. You can also file a complaint with the FCC online under “wired service”. Your complaint should specify the issue as Interstate Long Distance Call Routing and include as much detailed documentation as you can provide. You can also call the FCC at (888) 225-5322.

What is HBC doing about this?

Even though HBC has no control over calls that are not delivered or delivered incorrectly, we understand the level of frustration this can cause our customers. Our support team is working with several telecommunication trade associations to address this issue with the problem companies and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). We have invested significant time and resources to advocate on behalf of our customers and to have those responsible for the problem correct it.

NTCA Advocacy Efforts Result in Call Completion Legislation

NTCA–The Rural Broadband Association staff has been working continually on the call completion issue with congressional leaders. The culmination of those efforts resulted in the introduction of Senate Resolution 157, which recognizes the negative impact on rural consumers and businesses from the failure of calls to complete in rural communities. Introduced by Senators Amy Klobuchar (D–Minn.), Tim Johnson (D–S.D.), Deb Fischer (R–Neb.) and 10 of their Senate colleagues, the legislative resolution represents the sense of the Senate on this issue and calls on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to take specific and enforceable actions to remedy the situation. NTCA Chief Executive Officer Shirley Bloomfield released this statement in support of S.R.157: “It is time that rural consumers receive the dependable voice communications services that are mandated under law. Too many calls to rural communities have been failing for far too long, and the issue must be escalated and resolved. On behalf of all rural, community-based telecom providers, I applaud Senators Klobuchar, Johnson, Fischer, and their colleagues for their initiative in acknowledging to the American people that completed calls are not a luxury, but essential for public safety, education, health care and commerce. Their vision and commitment brings this critical issue to the forefront and calls on the FCC to ‘move forward with clear, comprehensive, and enforceable actions.’ As we have seen call completion failure rates continue to climb, we are grateful for the congressional intervention to help remedy this issue.” Co-sponsors of S.R.157 are Mark Pryor (D–Ark.), John Boozman (R–Ark.), Barbara Boxer (D–Calif.), Charles E. Grassley (R–Iowa), Jeff Merkley (D–Ore.), John Thune (R–S.D.), Patrick J. Leahy (D–Vt.), Bernard Sanders (I–Vt.), Tammy Baldwin (D–Wis.) and Michael B. Enzi (R–Wyo.). If your member of Congress supports S.R. 157, please extend your appreciation for their efforts. For more information, contact Tom Wacker at (703) 351-2039.

More information on this topic is also available here:

Minnesota Public Radio story on Call Completion Issues:

Articles in the Telecompetitor, a communications industry publication: