FCC Chairman Orders Telecoms To Restore Access To Free Iowa-Based Conference Call Providers

FCC Chairman Orders Telecoms To Restore Access To Free Iowa-Based Conference Call Providers

The Chairman of the FCC, Kevin Martin, has issued a stern rebuke to the telecoms that blocked their subscribers from accessing free Iowa-based conference call providers. Quoth the Chairman:

We actually contacted the companies that were listed in the press [reports] and said our rules prohibit you from blocking consumers’ access to any of the service providers… One had stopped blocking, but we heard complaints the next week that they were restricting access, sort of narrowing the pipe. We called them back and said, no, no, you can’t artificially degrade [service] either.

We think you should celebrate this reversal with your friends on a free Iowa-based conference call. If the service is blocked, or in any way degraded, don’t hesitate to fill out the FTC’s consumer complaint form. — CAREY GREENBERG-BERGER

Cingular, Sprint, And Qwest Block Access To Free Conference Call Services

Cingular, Sprint, And Qwest Block Access To Free Conference Call Services

Cingular blocked access to free conference call providers; Sprint and Qwest found Cingular’s chutzpah inspiring, and followed suit. At issue is a charge Iowa-based companies pass along to national carriers.

The 712 area code used by these services allow the local carriers to charge a number of subsidies to those carrying the incoming calls due to the location of the tiny, rural exchange. These fees are split between the local exchange and the “free” conference call company, which allows them to make a pretty penny. The fees for these calls made into 712 are higher than those charged by other exchanges, and AT&T/Cingular has in fact filed a lawsuit against these Iowa-based telcos for what Cingular claims are violation of a number of laws and FCC decisions.

Reader Mike asked Cingular to explain their action. Their response, inside…