September 24, 2007
By Herb Levitin, president of GoConference and FreeGoConference
Time is really running out. For the last 12 months we have been trying the correct and legal way to remedy AT&Ts self help action in stopping the settlement payments to our free conferencing companies. We have spent a lot of time and money with our law firm, there have been many meetings with the FCC staff but still AT&T is illegally withholding payments. There was even a record set of the most complaints to the FCC in the history of the FCC when the carriers started blocking calls to conferencing companies. Thanks for the directive asking the carriers for the second time to do what you already told them to do-stop all call blocking.
We started with eight parties and we have really grown since AT&T and Qwest have sued our expanding group of carriers regarding settlement fees paid to rural carriers. It seems to be just fine that AT&T pays Apple around $20 per month for marketing fees per iPhone. With 1 million iPhones sold in 74 days, that $20 million per month is great for Apple and AT&T, better yet when it is $200 million per month next year. It is fine for AT&T subsidiaries to also be in the free chat business collecting settlements, who cares if they are pornographic chat sites, just ignore that part of their complaint against us. Meanwhile AT&T (funny how nearly all the other carriers are doing the same thing, that is not collusion is it?) by their self-help actions (deemed illegal three times by the FCC) is squeezing some small competitors out of business. AT&T has you and your staff convinced that what is good for AT&T is good for the country. Only one more merger with Verizon and we are back to one telephone company and it is still called AT&T. So much for the Telecom Act of 1984, the Telecom Act of 1996 is already effectively toast now. All that hard work by Congress will effectively be negated.
So I have a brilliant solution, a truly win-win excellent solution. There are four issues affecting AT&T that represents billions in revenues, how about you give them the three largest issues and give us the smallest issue. The three issues are Internet neutrality (let them charge Google, Yahoo and MSN a few extra billion per year, they have it), the 700MHz spectrum (who needs more wireless competitors) and a merger with Verizon (better AT&T than Vodaphone). Winning on these three issues certainly will keep AT&T happy. The fourth issue which has the smallest financial impact on AT&T is to order them to follow the law and pay us our settlements, call them marketing fees like the iPhone arrangement. AT&T can then start a new lobbying campaign to kill the settlement law that will take a couple of years to accomplish. So we all win.
For those of you readers interested in making a difference, please download the attached draft letter and forward it to your representative in Congress. If you are like me and do not really want to live in a third world country where the law is corrupted by lobbyists then drop a dime to your representatives. I think we would all be better off if we had the best and most honest government, not the best government money can buy. Letter to the FCC Chairman and Commissioners.
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