Level 3 settles with FCC over rural calls

Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Level 3 Communications will pay the government nearly $1 million as a result of a settlement with the FCC over problems with phone calls in rural communities.

The settlement is part of a broader investigation by the Federal Communications Commission, which has found that basic long-distance phone calls often fail in rural areas. The federal agency said Tuesday that its review of other carriers is still under way.

Level 3 has agreed to meet certain call completion standards and provide records that will assist the FCC in enforcing its rules against failed calls, according to the agency. Level 3 will pay $975,000 to the U.S. Treasury and could make additional $1 million payments going forward if it misses specified quarterly targets.

"When calls to Americans in rural communities aren't reliably completed, the consequences are both life-threatening and damaging economically," FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said in a statement.

Level 3 said that it supports the commission's mandate to improve telephone call quality in rural America, and to root out those in the industry responsible for substandard phone service.

Shares of Level 3 Communications Inc., which is based in Broomfield, Colo., slipped 18 cents to $21.08 by late afternoon, in line with broader market trends.