Originally published: October 8, 2009
Last updated: October 8, 2009 - 10:00pm
Twenty Members of Congress have signed a letter to Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski asking the FCC to investigate Google's ability to block calls to rural telephone exchanges. In 2007, the FCC told carriers they could not restrict calls to avoid fees associated with adult chat lines or free conference calls by companies routing calls through rural carriers in order to generate fees. The spat prompted an attorney for some rural carriers, Ross Buntrock, to file a letter on October 1 with the FCC to complain that AT&T is refusing to pay its bills to rural carriers. "The only difference between Google's alleged call blocking and AT&T's refusal to pay terminating access charges for conference and chat-line calls is that the (local carriers) are forced to incur the costs of terminating AT&T's customers' traffic," Buntrock wrote. A Google spokesperson said on Thursday that for AT&T to invoke rural America while AT&T is behind in its payments to rural carriers is "the height of cynicism."
The lawmakers said they find Google's position "ill conceived and unfair to our rural constituents." They also said that they are concerned that the market and support for universal service will be undermined if Google is allowed to operate its telephone services outside of the rules that govern carriers.
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