WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar today pushed to improve rural communications at a Senate Commerce Committee hearing with telecommunications industry executives. At the hearing, Klobuchar underscored the need for action to crack down on rural call completion issues and highlighted the importance of cell phone unlocking, which allows consumers to switch cell phone carriers while keeping their phones.

“Just as we’ve built a transportation infrastructure of roads and bridges, we now need a 21st century communications infrastructure to keep our rural communities connected with the world,”said Klobuchar. “From ensuring reliable phone service to making sure families can choose the cell phone provider that works for them, I will continue to push to strengthen rural communications so communities can stay connected, hospitals have the resources they need to provide patients with the care they need, and local businesses can compete in the global economy.”

Klobuchar is a member of the Senate Commerce Committee and has been a leader in pushing to expand and improve communications infrastructure in rural areas. After Klobuchar and a bipartisan group of 35 senators urged FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski to take swift action to restore quality service in rural areas suffering from call completion problems, last year the FCC issued notice of new proposed rules to require carriers to collect and retain data allowing the FCC to determine if providers discriminate against rural customers. Last month the FCC reached a settlement with phone carrier Level 3 Communications that will require the company to meet vigorous, verifiable call completion standards, provide extensive records to assist FCC enforcement, as well as make a $975,000 voluntary contribution to the U.S. Treasury.

Last month Klobuchar introduced legislation—the Wireless Consumer Choice Act— that would direct the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to take action to allow cell phone unlocking. The legislation came after a decision was made by the Library of Congress to not extend the exemption to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act permitting consumers to unlock their phones. Both Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Julius Genachowski and the White House have voiced their support for efforts to unlock cell phones to give consumers choice and increase competition in the wireless market.