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.
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.
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.
But why all the interest in Google Voice from AT&T, Congress and now the FCC?
"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.In the end, though, it would seem that AT&T could wage its battle against the sex chat lines that are exploiting FCC regulations in a more direct manner than trying to drag Google Voice into also paying these fees. Once upon a time, our parents didn't have a clue what we were doing online.The internet was a new and exciting place, and it seemed like a safe and inpenetrable fortress of unsupervised mischief.Mind you, this was years before Chris Hansen was popping in to offer you a seat while the decoy internet teen went to go check on the hot tub.