The FCC has fined T-Mobile $40 million for faking connections to rural customers in Wisconsin, according to a release. It also inserted fake ring tones into those calls to make it seem like they were connecting and failing, even though no one was on the other end of the call to pick up.
The FCC's Enforcement Bureau opened an investigation following rural carrier and consumer complaints that T-Mobile callers were unable to reach consumers served by three rural carriers in Wisconsin. Although T-Mobile reported to the FCC that the problems had been "resolved," the Commission continued to receive complaints that calls were failing.
In addition, call completion complaints filed directly with T-Mobile showed patterns of problems with call delivery to consumers in at least seven other rural areas. The investigation also revealed T-Mobile's practice of injecting false ring tones into certain calls. T-Mobile reported that it had done so on hundreds of millions of calls and admitted that its actions violated the Commission's prohibition of injecting false ring tones on any calls.
What's the big deal? T-Mobile has typically had poor connectivity in rural parts of the U.S., owing to a shortage of available low-band spectrum. While the 600MHz auction has resolved the spectrum crunch, it's still rolling out.
This fine stems from years of malfeasance and taints the company's reputation as a straight-shooting, honest carrier.