Secret Behind Free Conference Calls

ACORN Ideas and Issues Personal Writings

Dallas        In the ACORN world we use a free conference calling service routinely and without reflection.  Sometime a couple of years ago we heard that such a thing existed.  Within our world it was a perfect solution because it meant that the price of the conference call did not have to be invoiced and billed to each participant.  The conferencing was paid for by the free service so was a wash.  The individual calls were paid for by each participant.  Often these costs were rolled up in various unlimited calling cell phone plans, so this would either be a direct bill solution to the participant or a push as well.  

    The fact that many of these calls involved an initiating call to some number and area code in Iowa was strange in a funny, peculiar way, but otherwise noteworthy.  Reading back newspapers the other day, I ran into a wonderful story in the Wall Street Journal that told the “rest of the story,” as Garner Ted Armstrong used to say on the radio station.  

    Seems in the breakup of AT&T and the Baby Bells a couple of years ago, the FCC was worried that the costs that had been subsidizing rural phone services as part of the telephone monopolies would be lost.  In their wisdom they wrote in some protections for the rural operations by allowing charges to the big operators for calls coming into these rural systems.  Made sense at the time particularly given the state of technology then.

    But technology has obviously jumped leaps and bounds in the intervening years, so it’s pretty trivial for companies to link up conferencing from all around the USA in this way now.  The beauty part for the owner of some small rural phone systems in Iowa was the ability to get the big boys to pay a premium for connecting from all around the country to their itty-bitty phone system in the rurals of Iowa.  In short the big whoops are paying millions in extra charges to the slicks in Iowa for people like ACORN to have free conference calls.  Isn’t that a hoot?!?
    It goes without saying that the big whoops are now lobbying the bejesus out of the Federal Communications Commission to try to get them to close this loophole, but in the meantime, you have to give them credit for a heck of a scam!  And, now we all understand why we are calling these hick numbers in Iowa, because that’s where the fast buck operators seem to live now.