T-Mobile to pay $40 million as part of FCC settlement over failed rural calls


T-Mobile has reached a settlement with the Federal Communications Commission for violating the Communications Act of 1934.

T-Mobile failed to correct issues with calls being delivered to rural customers, says the FCC. The agency began investigating complaints that T-Mo customers were unable to reach consumers using three rural Wisconsin carriers, and while T-Mobile told the FCC that the issue had been resolved, the FCC continued to get complaints. Complaints filed directly with T-Mobile showed patterns of call delivery issues in at least seven other rural areas.

Here’s FCC Chairman Ajit Pai’s statement on this settlement:

“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. The FCC is committed to ensuring that phone calls to all Americans, including rural Americans, go through.”

Additionally, T-Mobile violated an FCC rule that’s meant to prevent operators from inserting false ring tones into calls. T-Mo admitted that it had injected fake ring tones into hundreds of millions of calls.

T-Mobile will pay $40 million to the U.S. Treasury as part of the settlement. T-Mo will also enter into a compliance plan to avoid this violation in the future.

T-Mobile issued the following statement to me in response to today’s news:

“T-Mobile is committed to all of our customers across the country. Our actions have always been focused on better serving our customers and the ringtone oversight, which was corrected in January 2017, was unintentional. We have settled this matter — and will continue to focus on our mission to change for wireless for good for consumers everywhere.”

Sources: FCC (1), (2)

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  • Hurlamania

    What do I get for having to listen to all those inserted ring tones, I can still hear them. LOL

    • Prode

      You get nothing which is what these do for the common person. It gives the gov money and the customer nothing.

  • duhvid

    Does anybody here experience weird noises in your phone conversations?

    • SirStephenH

      Not me.

  • besweeet

    What does T-Mobile losing $40 million do for the larger problem at hand? Shouldn’t they keep but allocate those funds to warrant fixing the issue? Or were they already instructed to do that but failed?

    • SirStephenH

      As the article said they were told to fix it, then T-Mobile claimed to have fixed it but the FCC continued to recieve complaints which then resulted in this settlement. The settlement includes a requirement to actually fix this issue and sets up a process to insure T-Mobile remains compliant.

      I would have preferred that they were forced to spend this money on something pro-consumer that T-Mobile likely wouldn’t have done on its own instead of using it to pay for the GOP tax scam but hey, at least this shows that the FCC is at least a little functional under Pai.

  • TaskForce141

    The rural carriers charge very high connect fees on incoming calls.
    It’s a monopoly out there on the Plains and farm country.
    So they were likely on an internal blacklist at T-Mo.
    But instead of an honest recorded message: “We cannot connect to this location because of high costs”, T-Mo chose to deceive. And blame it on the end-user.
    So you think your call did go through, but Auntie Emmie didn’t pick up.

    The FCC should go after the rural carriers, too. They are the real cause of the problem.

    • SirStephenH

      They cannot block calls at all and a recorded message would have done nothing to resolve this issue. If costs are a problem then they can lodge a complaint.

    • HelpStupidPeople

      The “problem”you describe doesn’t seem to exist for other carriers. Nice uncarrier move.

    • dl_crash

      Agree! And the interconnects companies. T-Mobile took the call from the cell phone and gave it to a routing partner, they are the ones who failed to connect the call.

  • mikeZo6

    GOOD they should get fined from FCC for Tmobile says they have the fastest data speeds

  • pda96

    This is a disgrace, Mr. Legere!! Your credibility has taken a big hit.

    • Jason

      LOL Over this? HAHAHA Stop being so extra.

  • tmo_repatl

    Who is it that receives the fine from the FCC? I believe that the $40 million dollar fine should be re-distributed to ALL T-Mobile account holders via a check and NOT through a bill credit.

  • Jason Caprio

    Looks like T-Mobile got caught trying to save money by using deception, thinking not many people will notice it since it’s outside their core urban market.

    This is what happens when you run a dishonest company. This dishonesty also reflects on their coverage map. Just last weekend, me and my fiance were in Bushkill, PA. She has a Google Pixel XL on T-Mobile. I have a Google Pixel 2 XL on Verizon service provided by my work. At one point we both wanted to look up nearby places to check out. Her phone had ZERO signal (Emergency Calls Only) and Verizon had a decent signal with fast speeds. I had to run a hotspot for her lol.

    According to T-Mobile’s coverage map, that entire area is painted magenta. I have not once experienced this issue with Verizon. In the past when I personally used to have T-Mobile, I’ve lost count of how many times I went to an area outside of a metro market, expected a signal, and had very low or no signal, yet their coverage map showed I should have a signal. I’m very surprised that this is happening in 2018, where they are claiming to be just as good if not better than Verizon.

    • dl_crash

      Good point except the FCC fine was for not routing calls to rural landline number and had nothing to do with coverage. All the carriers grossly over estimated their coverage maps. Did you share your coverage issue with T-Mobile?

      • Jason Caprio

        T-Mobile grossly exaggerates their coverage map, Verizon doesn’t. Anywhere the Verizon coverage says I have service I do, and where it shows no coverage, then I get no coverage.

        I’m on Verizon so I am not going to waste my time complaining to T-Mobile for my fiance. She’s about to jump ship soon anyway.

        • Fabian Cortez

          I’m on Verizon so I am not going to waste my time complaining to T-Mobile for my fiance. She’s about to jump ship soon anyway.

          Does that mean you’ll finally jump ship from this site as well?

        • Jason Caprio

          I didn’t realise this site was only for T-Mobile superfans and Verizon haters. Disclaimer: T-Mobile is not your friend, nor is Verizon my friend. They are both companies trying to provide a service and make a buck.

        • James Smith

          All hail the Dear Leader John Legere! /s

        • pda96

          Well, Jason, this website “IS” called “tmonews” and not “verizonnews”. So you should expect to find lots of TMO supefans :) But I don’t disagree with your disclaimer. Up until recently, TMO is the most customer friendly. But I’m sure once they match VZ and ATT in coverage, they will be no different than any other greedy money grubbing American corporation. And if they merge with Sprint……oh man, get ready to bend over!

        • M42

          Sorry to disagree, but when I had Verizon I found their coverage maps were grossly exaggerated. They always show they have coverage in areas I would travel to only to find out they didn’t. I’ve found T-Mobile’s maps and AT&T’s maps to be very accurate. T-Mobile will even show you the quality of coverage at any given address you plug in. Verizon shows the strongest coverage everywhere, even when they don’t have a signal.

    • Jason

      Might want to try an actual 600 mhz phone. How would you know if there is coverage there or not?

      • Jason Caprio

        I highly doubt Bushkill, PA has 600MHz. According to the coverage map, they only have Band 2 1900MHz. They are inside a Band 12 700MHz license area, but it is not deployed there. T-Mobile’s coverage map for years said that area was covered, yet most of it has no signal and I’m not talking about indoors, I’m talking about OUTSIDE.

    • Spanky

      T-Mobile may be faster than Verizon in certain urban markets, but they have a very long way to go to match Verizon’s coverage.

      • Jason Caprio

        And I completely agree with you. T-Mobile is amazing in metro areas, but out in the wilderness, they still have a very long way to go. We can only hope that the 600MHz will fill in all the gaps.

    • pda96

      I can offer you a similar anecdote on my experience with VZ vs TMO where I ended up switching to TMO (from VZ). Every carrier has strengths and weaknesses. Just use what’s best for “you”!

      • M42

        All I got when I had Verizon was dropped calls.

    • LAGURL22

      Verizon should get fined too here in LA not in the middle of nowhere los angeles big city not rural at all , I can have 2 bars and my mom also on Verizon sitting next to me with 2 bars i call her on my phone it starts ringing but hers doesn’t. We call them fake bars. It has caused lots problems like when we get separated at the mall or any other place with lots of people I bee CALLING AND CALLING on my side it rings and rings and goes to voice mail . Then when I finally find her 2 hours later I bee all mad WHY THE FCK HAVENT u been answering? She’s like phone never rang . I check her phone and yep no missed calls . And she didn’t have her iPhone on vibrate or silent volume is all the way up and has 3 or more bars , also shel be mad at me too like bytch wtf I also been calling you like crazy and it kept on ringing and ringing and going to voice mail . My phone also never even rang once. When I had cricket which runs on At&t It would do that same shyt sometimes it would have bars it would ring on my side but not on the others persons side . So guess they all the same . Btw I have a note 8 she has an iPhone x right now.

  • Iphart

    Get ready for higher monthly bills in 6 months or so to take care of this $40 mil bill.

    • Jason

      Heh 40 million for a company with a 50 billion dollar market cap is nothing. Its like less than nothing. Its like the price of a happy meal at mikeedees to an average person.

      • M42

        Except that the 40 mil could build out coverage in a lot of rural areas.

  • dl_crash

    T-Mobile is a cell phone service, not a long distance provider. These calls failed on a down stream network. Where’s that companies fine?

  • aglee89

    What happens to the max ney the FCC gets, sounds like they both rip off the consumer

    • SirStephenH

      It goes to the general fund in the U.S. Treasury. Basically it helps pay for the GOP tax scam.

      • The Borg

        Don’t forget Bill Clinton’s viagra

      • Jason

        Oh I’m sorry, I didn’t realize that $86 per paycheck (and thats not a guess, thats exact) was a supposed scam. Since I get paid bi-weekly, thats over $2000 a year. Who do you want me to give that to? LOL Get the f out of here with your ‘scam’ bs. You can go donate your $2000 to the government if you want, but get your hand out of my pocket.

  • SlopeTangentAnswer

    “unintentional” – please.