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"Indeed, if one were to replace 'Google' with 'AT&T,' and call blocking' with 'no pay' in AT&T's [letter to the FCC], Northern Valley and Sancom would have little to add to describe AT&T's unlawful campaign." "Without a hint of irony, AT&T concludes that 'the Commission cannot, through inaction or otherwise, give Google a special privilege to play by its own rules,'" Buntrock added.
In response, the search giant has said, "Unlike traditional carriers, Google Voice is a free, Web-based software application, and so not subject to common carrier laws." But those 20 lawmakers have challenged that notion.And set aside the fact that these lawmakers' constituents are among the biggest beneficiaries of a system that provides them with the same phone service that more densely populated areas are accustomed to.Instead, to understand what's going on here, consider this background.Thanks to FCC rules, AT&T is obligated pay these fees to the local phone exchanges to connect the calls, primarily to local numbers in Iowa and South Dakota, but in other rural states as well.In recent years, volume to these local numbers has increased dramatically, with phone numbers being used by free conference-call companies as well as sex chat lines with names like "Butt Monkey." Ron Laudner, CEO of Farmers Telephone, a local exchange in Riceville, Iowa, last year told the arrangement was routing some 40 million minutes of calls each month to his exchange, generating .2 million per month.
An AT&T spokesperson told Reuters that policymakers would determine if Google is enjoying a "double-standard." Some of the local exchanges have accused AT&T of simply not paying its bills.