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This is something AT&T has tried to avoid, but was required to do by the FCC in 2007.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.
S., which Google Voice will compete against, has argued that Google Voice should also have to connect expensive rural calls.
AT&T has never been happy about that, and it's now livid that Google Voice can avoid having to connect such calls -- thus dodging this twisted fee scheme.
On Thursday, after much sniping between AT&T and Google, the dispute reached Congress: A group of 20 House Republicans and Democrats wrote to the FCC urging it to investigate Google's right to block calls to rural telephone exchanges.
But why all the interest in Google Voice from AT&T, Congress and now the FCC?
After all, Google Voice is available by invite only, and only a relative handful of people are using it. And why is AT&T expending so much energy to create roadblocks to its tiny new rival?
Since most consumers now have phone service with unlimited long distance or large monthly chunks of minutes, the calls are supercheap -- or effectively free -- for the user, while AT&T and the other long-distance carriers have to shoulder the charges imposed by the local exchanges. Thus, while lawmakers, AT&T, and editorial page might pontificate about how this is all about rural phone customers, or fairness, in reality this is about sex and money -- and everyone knows it, including AT&T, which has long griped about the situation.
In a 2007 letter to the FCC complaining about the practice, AT&T wrote: "Many of the calling service providers use 'free' pornographic chat lines to generate traffic....
Despite what a handful of lawmakers may say, the dispute between Google (GOOG) and AT&T (T) over the search giant's Google Voice application is not so much about fairness or rural access as it is about steamy phone sex and piles of money.
These lawmakers, including Steve Buyer, an Indiana Republican and John Shimkus, an Illinois Republican -- who have received a combined 0,000 from AT&T and Verizon over their careers, according to -- have written to the FCC complaining that Google's refusal to connect expensive rural calls is "ill conceived and unfair to our rural constituents." The FCC is set to open an investigation to determine if that's true, according to Dow Jones, and will formally notify Google of the inquest later Friday.
All of which have a single purpose: to artificially stimulate massive increases in traffic." In other words, AT&T knows this dispute isn't about getting Google Voice to provide service to rural America -- it's about porn.
Naturally, AT&T does not want to pay these exorbitant fees, and yet it's urging the FCC to require Google Voice to connect such calls and pay the fees.
"The fact is, we agree that the FCC needs to fix the current rules for compensating phone carriers." A spokesperson for the FCC declined to comment, and AT&T did not immediately return calls requesting comment.