Rural wireless carriers sue T-Mobile over fake ringtones

Several rural phone companies filed a $750 million class action lawsuit against T-Mobile over damage to their businesses from T-Mobile’s illegal “fake ringtone” past practice. Last year, the FCC reached a $40 million settlement with T-Mobile over these violations.  

“T-Mobile consciously used this illegal practice to mask its intermediate carriers’ routine failure to deliver high cost calls routed to rural areas of the United States that created a negative margin for T-Mobile,” says the lawsuit. “The use of the fake ring tones deceived customers into believing the calls were reaching their intended destination and thereby shifted blame for those call failures onto local phone companies, particularly rural carriers, even though the calls never even made it to these rural carriers’ networks.”

The lawsuit raises questions about T-Mobile’s commitment to rural communities as it prepares to defend itself in the state attorneys general lawsuit challenging the proposed T-Mobile-Sprint merger. According to CWA’s analysis, the T-Mobile-Sprint merger would leave many rural communities without access to high speed wireless. 


T-Mobile catches fire for alleged ring tone scheme (FierceWireless, Nov. 6, 2019)

Class Action complaint and jury demand (US District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Nov. 1, 2019)

FCC reaches $40 million settlement with T-Mobile on rural calling (FCC, Apr. 16, 2018)