T-Mobile US Inc. will pay $40 million to settle accusations that the carrier made it seem that outgoing calls were ringing at their destination when they weren't, the Federal Communications Commission announced.
T-Mobile admitted that it violated a prohibition against inserting false ringing sounds and that it did not correct problems, the FCC said Monday in an emailed news release. T-Mobile reported that it had injected the false ringing sounds on hundreds of millions of calls, the FCC said.
Call-completion problems appear to be occurring mostly in rural areas served by closely held regional telephone companies, which charge the long-distance carriers such as T-Mobile more than companies in urban and suburban areas, according to the FCC.
With the false ringing sounds, the calling party believes the phone is ringing at the called party's premises when it is not. As a result, the caller may hang up, thinking nobody is available to receive the call, thus saving T-Mobile fees it would have to pay the local carrier.
Calls that aren't completed cause rural businesses to lose revenue, impede medical professionals from reaching patients in rural areas, cut families off from their relatives and create the potential for dangerous delays in public safety communications, the FCC said.
T-Mobile, based in Bellevue, Wash., said in an emailed statement that "the ringtone oversight, which was corrected in January 2017, was unintentional."
12:10 p.m.: This article was updated with comment from T-Mobile.