AT&T, which has the exclusive right to market Apple's i Phone in the U.S., which Google Voice will compete against, has argued that Google Voice should also have to connect expensive rural calls.And set aside the fact that these lawmakers' constituents are among the biggest beneficiaries of a system that provides them with the same phone service that more densely populated areas are accustomed to.
What these newlocal phone exchanges quickly discovered is that they could make a gobs of money by partnering with phone sex and adult chat companies to route the numbers through rural exchanges -- a practice known as "traffic pumping." The local exchanges then turn around and charge AT&Tmany of which are actually forwarded to sex call centers in Los Angeles and elsewhere.Despite what a handful of lawmakers may say, the dispute between Google (GOOG) and AT&T (T) over the search giant's Google Voice application is not so much about fairness or rural access as it is about steamy phone sex and piles of money.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?After all, Google Voice is available by invite only, and only a relative handful of people are using it. And why is AT&T expending so much energy to create roadblocks to its tiny new rival?