FCC Tells Phone Companies You Can't Arbitrarily Block Calls To Numbers You Don't Like
from the awfully-quiet-about-it dept
A few months back, telcos like AT&T and Sprint started blocking calls to various free conference call lines based in Iowa. As we had explained earlier, these systems were basically abusing bad regulations in Iowa, forcing telcos to pay them a lot of money for every incoming call. Even so, it seemed questionable that telcos could arbitrarily block who customers could call. It certainly echoed some of the concerns about network neutrality, where ISPs conceivably could block what sites users could visit. Based on all of this, it was somewhat surprising that the FCC didn't get involved. Eventually, however, the telcos backed down. We had assumed it was a combination of the bad publicity over the blocked calls (even if the Iowa telcos involved seriously overhyped the importance of being able to scam bigger telcos through regulatory loopholes) and the fact that the FCC was finally holding meetings on the issue. However, earlier today, FCC Chair Kevin Martin admitted that the FCC quickly called the big telcos in question to let them know, in no uncertain terms, that this was a violation of FCC rules. In fact, he claims that a week after the big telcos backed down, the FCC discovered that at least one was still somehow limiting or degrading calls to those Iowa numbers -- and the FCC contacted the telco again to tell them that this was not allowed. It's good to know that the FCC took this seriously (especially since it's one of the few times that it seems to have gone against the wishes of its good friends in the telco industry). It's still odd that the FCC didn't make any public announcement about this to make it abundantly clear to others not to go down this route. Perhaps Martin wanted to save his friends from some embarrassment. In the meantime, can anyone explain why no one is changing the silly regulations to get rid of the ridiculous and unnecessary fees to these Iowa telcos?