FreeConference Alleges Blocking of Calls by AT&T

March 26, 2007. Freeconference.com, Inc. filed a complaint in U.S. District Court (DC) against AT&T alleging violation of federal antitrust law and the Communications Act in connection with AT&T's alleged blocking of calls to FreeConference, and AT&T's alleged termination of access fees from local exchange carriers (LECs) to which FreeConference is a subscriber.

The complaint alleges that "certain of its customers using Cingular cellular telephone service" are "unable to reach and join their teleconferences on certain telephone numbers assigned to" FreeConference. It further alleges that these calls "are being blocked by Cingular".

The complaint also alleges that AT&T has "suspended payments of terminating access fees to certain LECs, including at least one (1) LEC that provides local exchange services and assigned telephone numbers" to FreeConference.

The complaint adds that "AT&T's blocking of specific telephone numbers assigned to and used by one or more specific business subscribers and its suspension of payment of terminating access fees to particular LECs is not authorized by any state or federal statute or court decision or by any state or federal regulatory authority or justified by any applicable law or regulation."

Count I of the complaint alleges monopolization and monopoly maintenance in violation of Section 2 of the Sherman Act, 15 U.S.C. 2.

Count II seeks relief under 47 U.S.C. 406 for alleged violations of 47 U.S.C. 201(a)&(b) and 202.

Section 201(a) provides in part that  "It shall be the duty of every common carrier engaged in interstate or foreign communication by wire or radio to furnish such communication service upon reasonable request therefor ..."

Section 201(b) provides in part that "All charges, practices, classifications, and regulations for and in connection with such communication service, shall be just and reasonable, and any such charge, practice, classification, or regulation that is unjust or unreasonable is declared to be unlawful ..."

Section 202 provides in part that "It shall be unlawful for any common carrier to make any unjust or unreasonable discrimination in charges, practices, classifications, regulations, facilities, or services for or in connection with like communication service, directly or indirectly, by any means or device, or to make or give any undue or unreasonable preference or advantage to any particular person, class of persons, or locality, or to subject any particular person, class of persons, or locality to any undue or unreasonable prejudice or disadvantage".

Then, Section 406 provides, in part, that "The district courts of the United States shall have jurisdiction upon the relation of any person alleging any violation, by a carrier subject to this chapter, of any of the provisions of this chapter which prevent the relator from receiving service in interstate or foreign communication by wire or radio, or in interstate or foreign transmission of energy by radio, from said carrier at the same charges, or upon terms or conditions as favorable as those given by said carrier for like communication or transmission under similar conditions to any other person, to issue a writ or writs of mandamus against said carrier commanding such carrier to furnish facilities for such communication or transmission to the party applying for the writ ..."

Count III seeks damages under 47 U.S.C. 207. Count IV seeks a permanent injunction.

This case is Freeconference.com, Inc.v. AT&T, Inc., et al., U.S. District Court of the District of Columbia, D.C. No. 1:07-cv-00574, Judge Paul Friedman presiding.

FreeConference is represented by John Schryber and Jonathan Rubin of the Washington DC office of the law firm of Patton Boggs.