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AllFreeCalls caught in AT&T's squeeze

Over the weekend, I had a piece of email from a reader which said:

You are aware that Cubic Telecom is mentioned in page 14 of the at&t vs. Superior, et. al. lawsuit, right?  They are not listed as a defendant, but related to the service.

This is the $2 million suit that AT&T has filed against Superior Telephone Coop, and which resulted in the shutdown of FuturePhone, the company that gave away international long distance calls for “free” when you made a call to their relay number in the 712 area code.  Cubic Telecom is Irish entrepreneur Pat Phelan’s company, which is behind AllFreeCalls.net, and AllFreeCalls.ie. 

The Irish telco’s are already stalking Pat’s business, and he has had to make some changes to his service as a result.  When asked about the AT&T suit, though, he discretely said: “Cubic telecom has not received and has refused any payment from its Iowa provider until the current legal situation is resolved”.

The Irish papers had a longer story, which is linked from John Collins’ Tagging Tech blog.  In that story, there is a little more detail:

Cubic would not take any payments from the Iowa company until the case was resolved, he said, but Cubic could sustain the cost of providing the service “indefinitely”.

“AT&T are trying to squeeze us out of business by stopping payments for three to six months,” said Mr Phelan. “AT&T should be suing the FCC and not us.”

Indeed.

While it’s not uncommon for ILECs to dispute termination charges, it is unusual for them to dispute those charges in court.  In making its case so publicly, AT&T is deliberately politicizing the dispute — a blatant attempt to engage American politicians in a discussion of the rural telco subsidies.

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