RWA is not surprised that a group of rural carriers has mounted a class action lawsuit against T-Mobile for the immense harm inflicted upon rural local exchange carriers and their rural customers for the insertion of fake ring tones. In April 2018, the FCC adopted a Consent Decree estimating that T-Mobile inserted false ring tones into billions of telephone calls placed by T-Mobile customers leading them to think customers of the rural LECs were not answering their landline telephones. The FCC fined T-Mobile $40 million, but nothing was done to compensate T-Mobile’s customers or the rural carriers who suffered reputational harm, lost revenues and increased costs related to the public relations nightmare of trying to explain to rural customers why calls made from T-Mobile customers never materialized.
According to the Complaint, “T-Mobile’s conduct represents one of the largest telecommunications frauds ever perpetrated against the American people.” Further the Complaint notes that, “the FCC’s consent decree did nothing to compensate any of the consumers that were victims of T-Mobile’s fake ring tone scheme and deceptive trade practices.”
RWA previously raised these rural call completion concerns in testimony before Congress and in filings with the FCC when the T-Mobile/Sprint merger was under review arguing that this type of anti-consumer behavior is not in the public interest. RWA contended that allowing the New T-Mobile to potentially victimize Sprint’s 50 million subscribers in this or other ways in an effort to cut costs and gain market share should serve as an indicator to decision makers that T-Mobile is more interested in lining the pockets of its shareholders than providing a true public interest oriented common carrier service to its subscribers.
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