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Summary:

[qi:90] The great call blocking battle that broke out in the spring of 2007 seems to be finally over, with one of the key players in the drama dropping its lawsuit against Ma Bell. A few months ago some incumbent phone companies started blocking free conference […]

[qi:90] The great call blocking battle that broke out in the spring of 2007 seems to be finally over, with one of the key players in the drama dropping its lawsuit against Ma Bell.

A few months ago some incumbent phone companies started blocking free conference calling services such as FreeConference.com, that were using Iowa rural telecoms to terminate calls, squeezing out pennies from the large companies.

AT&T (T) claimed that the free calls might cost them $250 million. Qwest (Q), Sprint (FON) and Cingular all piled on bitterly complaining about the amount of money these free calling services were costing them.

Nonsense said, FreeConference.com, which filed an anti-trust lawsuit against AT&T. FreeConference.com CEO Alex Cory left us a message, saying that his company was dropping the lawsuit against Ma Bell.

Why, did he drop the law suit?, we asked Cory? He said FCC had intervened.

We dropped our suit once it was clear that call blocking was not going to be allowed and each carrier committed publicly to that position. It was a very expensive suit.

Related: Our previous coverage on free calling services scandal.

  1. Interesting. Though I might side w/the incumbents on this one. It doesn’t seem quite fair.

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  2. So, does that mean that AT&T will pay the termination fees that Free Conference is owed, or that some settlement has been made in respect to future fees? If so, does that mean that the Free International model is coming back?

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  3. Several weeks ago, the FCC opened a formal investigation into these schemes. While they said that the large carriers couldn’t impose the “self-help remedy” of blocking the calls, they also said that it appeared that the “traffic pumping” used to create huge terminating access charges was not in line with the regulatory intent.

    See http://fjallfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DOC-274687A1.pdf, which says in part: “To address concerns expressed by long-distance and wireless companies, the Bureau suspended the tariffs of 39 rural carriers due to substantial questions raised about the lawfulness of the rates filed, in light of possible efforts by the carriers to stimulate long-distance access
    traffic.”

    So indeed the FCC has intervened, but the ultimate resolution will no doubt result in some rationalization of the access charge anomaly that drove the original dispute.

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  4. I agree. But I cannot imagine FreeConference would drop its case (and potentially millions of dollars in back fees owed) unless it appears some equitable resolution is imminent.

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  5. [...] GigaOM: Telecoms can’t block FreeConference.com calls after all, so FreeConference.com ends expensive lawsuit. [...]

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  6. This lawsuit was only related to the blocked calls. Since that was resolved by the FCC months ago, it was only logical that the suit would be dropped. The only question is why it took so long for them to drop it.

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  7. ok, this whole topic is the big load of crap i have seen. AT&T and Qwest, heck all the bells are such butheads it is unreal. All these companies followed the letter of the law to do a legal business. It is SO LEGAL I have a contract from BOTH Verizon and AT&T right now in my hand. They both did the same thing. They just don’t like it when others do it. They share revenue today with APPLE. How is this any different? IF they can afford to share revenue on a monthly basis shouldn’t the monthly fee of the iphone be less? That is the argument they are makeing. They share revenue with Hotels and Airports. Payphones are the same way. Kettle black? The FCC should see this, but Martin is going to run for office and wants that big check from AT&T to fund his campain. If he didn’t want that money he would side with the Public interest and not the bells. After all that is what the FCC is suppose to do. Protect the people. Who is hurt here? It will be one big phone company some day, Personally I hope to heck google gets their phone out. I want to be first in the line.

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