Waxman, Boucher, Stupak investigate schemes that led to Google Voice's call blocking

Then smaller carriers accused AT&T of being hypocritical because the telecom giant itself has refused to pay its own bills resulting from connection fees to these higher-priced numbers.

The FCC opened an investigation of the "traffic pumping" practices at the request of AT&T, alleging Google was violating call-blocking rules. Congress has also asked the FCC to look into the high rates smaller carriers allegedly charge long-distance carriers--the subject of this week's letters to companies including Great Lakes, Dixon Telephone Company, Beehive Communications, and Northern Valley Communications.

The lawmakers want to know more about "allegations that the existing access charge regime may create incentives for incumbent local exchange proviers to charge excessive rates for terminating access....Some Internet-based voice service providers say they refuse to connect calls to certain rural areas because of the high acess fees."

"If these allegations are accuate, customers ultimately bear the brunt of these practices in the form of a reduced ability to reach rural areas via Internet-based voice services and higher charges," the letter said.

They asked the carriers 12 detailed questions and requested responses by March 8.