T-Mobile Fined Over False Ringtones

By: Joseph Sanford


Have you ever felt like someone was purposely not answering the phone? Trying to avoid you? Especially when you were in a rural or underpopulated area?


Well, it turns out that it may not be getting your call at all. Especially if you have T-Mobile. T-Mobile just settled paying 40 million dollars for using false ringtones. False ringtones is the concept that when you are trying to make a call if you don’t have service, rather than your phone telling you this, it plays a fake tone as if the phone is ringing and no one picked up, when in actuality your phone isn’t connecting to the person your calling at all. The FCC initiated an investigation after receiving complaints from T-Mobile callers who were unable to reach parties served by three rural carriers in Wisconsin.  The complaints kept coming in after T-Mobile said it had “resolved” the problem. Then similar complaints about T-Mobile service came in from other rural areas.


The settlement was negotiated by the Federal Communications Commission. In January of 2017, T-Mobile claimed that this issue had been resolved, and was unintentional, but it has recently been brought back to the attention of the FCC. In 2014, the FCC enacted an order to ban the practice of adding fake ringtones. Users began to complain that T-Mobile wasn’t complying with the ban, and the FCC launched an investigation into the carrier’s actions in response. T-Mobile then claimed it had removed fake ringtones, but users continued to complain until the FCC discovered the full extent of T-Mobile’s violations.