Long Distance Issues

3 Rivers telephone customers, along with customers of other providers in rural areas across Montana and other states, are experiencing problems with long distance phone calls not being completed or suffering from other call quality issues.


Some of these issues are:

  • Calling party hears ringing, called party’s phone does not ring.
  • Calling party hears dead air, sometimes up to a full minute, until they hear ringing.
  • Called party’s phone rings but hears dead air when the call is answered.
  • Extremely poor quality on calls that are answerable.
  • Caller ID shows an incorrect number for incoming calls.

These problems occur on calls originated using a variety of telephone technologies including landline, wireless and Internet voice services. The exact issue has yet to be determined, but it is believed to be a problem with the way long distance carriers route the call, which sometimes involves using “least cost routing”—not always the highest quality route.


3 Rivers realizes that these problems are very frustrating for consumers who may miss calls from family and friends and could be costly for businesses missing calls from customers or suppliers. Naturally, telephone subscribers are going to turn to their local telephone company for a resolution. These particular calling problems, however, originate outside of 3 Rivers’ local telephone network and therefore cannot be “fixed” by 3 Rivers. The problem calls, which move from one company’s network to a second and often a third or fourth network, may not even reach 3 Rivers’ network.


Several national telephone associations have determined that this is an epidemic affecting the routing of calls to customers in rural areas nationwide. These national associations contacted the FCC Enforcement Bureau and asked for an investigation to identify the cause of the long distance call completion problems. The FCC is currently meeting with several of the national long distance carriers to gather information. It is our hope that these problems will be identified and corrected in the near future.


3 Rivers is gathering information from our own customers to share with the national groups to work towards resolving these concerns. If you experience any of the calling issues mentioned above please call our business office at 467-2535 (800-796-4567 from out of local calling area) and let us know.

If someone attempting to call you experiences call completion problems, it is helpful to gather as many details as possible including:

  • Time call was placed.
  • Phone number from which call originated.
  • Name of the caller’s long distance or wireless provider.
  • Details about what, if anything, occurred on the receiving end of the call.

Thank you for your patience.