For generations, people in greater Minnesota have been at a disadvantage when it comes to access to emerging technologies. In recent years, we have raised awareness in the state Legislature about these inequities and have helped expand opportunities for things like cell phone and high speed Internet access. However, when it comes to Google's new Internet phone technologies, greater Minnesota is again being discriminated against.
You may only think of Google as an Internet company, but in recent years they have expanded. Recently they have pioneered a new technology called Google Voice, which allows consumers to assign one phone number that will ring at your work, home, and cell phone simultaneously when someone calls you.
If you are interested in learning more about Google Voice, you can read about it online at: www.google.com/voice. But what you won't read on the Web site is that Google Voice only works in the metro area. To avoid higher connection fees with rural phone services, Google simply blocks calls to greater Minnesota.
State and federal laws prevent phone services from discriminating against rural Americans in this manner and federal rules also require that Internet services be accessible to all customers. Whether Google is an Internet service, a phone service, or both, these practices need to stop.
State Rep. Joe Atkins, House chair of the Commerce and Labor committee has brought attention to this issue by sending a letter to Google asking for their comment. I applaud his efforts.
Google is out of line for stepping on the little guy. I look forward to working with Rep. Atkins and others who share my passion for equality for all Minnesotans to make sure the voices of everyone in Greater Minnesota and throughout our state are not silenced by a behemoth corporation like Google.
Rep. Tom Rukavina
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