Long Distance – Ghost Calls

We have been receiving calls from our customers requesting support for what some have described as “ghost calls.” Silver Star is one of many carriers experiencing this problem, and it is not Silver Star’s network or service that is the problem.

What is a ghost call?

Ghost calls appear to be occurring in rural areas where long distance carriers normally pay higher-than-average charges to the local telephone company to complete calls. To minimize these charges, some long distance carriers use third-party “least-cost routers,” which attempt to connect calls to their destination at the lowest cost possible. The end result of this method of connecting calls is that the calls do not always reach their destination.

While it is possible to make and receive local calls, you may not always be able to receive long distance calls. You may experience situations in which the calling party hears ringing but the called party hears nothing, there is an unusually long call set-up, the called party’s phone rings but hears only dead air when the call is answered, or there is extremely poor quality on answered calls.

What is being done to resolve the issue?

The good news is that new FCC rules, effective December 29, 2011, will provide both short and long-term solutions to rural call completion problems. These rules are part of an Order the FCC adopted in October 2011 making broader reforms to the access charge system, called Intercarrier Compensation, or ICC. It is unknown how long it will take for all carriers to comply.

What should you do if you encounter this problem?

We recommend asking the person trying to call you to contact their long distance provider to inquire about least cost routing. Additionally, you can help by tracking the numbers and names of the callers who are calling you that experience connection problems. We are collecting information from our customers on these “ghost calls” so we can attempt to notify these providers because even though this issue starts with another provider it ultimately affects our customers’ communications. Please email us the following information:

  • What is the name and number of the person who was unable to call you?
  • What is the date/time this problem was experienced?
  • Were they using a cell phone, landline, or VOIP service?
  • Who is their long distance provider and phone provider?

We remain committed to providing the best service possible to our customers. For more information, visit the Federal Communications Commission website at http://www.fcc.gov.