AT&T Says Google Plays Unfair

Various news organizations reported last Friday that AT&T claimed in a letter filed with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that Google is violating the FCC operating principles underlying Net Neutrality ensuring "there’s a level playing field" among competitors.

AT&T's letter says,

"This vision is apparently not shared by one of the most noisome trumpeters of so-called 'net neutrality' regulation, Google, at least when it comes to its own services. Numerous press reports indicate that Google is systematically blocking telephone calls from consumers that use Google Voice to call telephone numbers in certain rural communities. By blocking these calls, Google is able to reduce its access expenses. Other providers, including those with which Google Voice competes, are banned from call blocking because in June 2007, the Wireline Competition Bureau emphatically declared that all carriers are prohibited from pursuing 'self help actions such as call blocking.' The Bureau expressed concern that call blocking 'may degrade the reliability of the nation’s telecommunications network.' Google Voice thus has claimed for itself a significant advantage over providers offering competing services."

The AT&T goes on for four pages in all (with lots of references), which I'll leave for you to read.

Google, in its response to AT&T's missive, says, whoa there, just wait a minute.

"Unlike traditional carriers, Google Voice is a free, Web-based software application, and so not subject to common carrier laws. Google Voice is not intended to be a replacement for traditional phone service -- in fact, you need an existing land or wireless line in order to use it. Importantly, users are still able to make outbound calls on any other phone device. Google Voice is currently invitation-only, serving a limited number of users."

Furthermore,

"AT&T is trying to make this about Google's support for an open Internet, but the comparison just doesn't fly. The FCC's open Internet principles apply only to the behavior of broadband carriers -- not the creators of Web-based software applications. Even though the FCC does not have jurisdiction over how software applications function, AT&T apparently wants to use the regulatory process to undermine Web-based competition and innovation."

Don't you just love a good technology cat fight where each party calls the other a hypocrite or a Luddite?

Anyone want to voice an opinion on it?

BTW, the Washington Post ran an editorial today urging the FCC that it "should not be telling Internet service providers how to run their businesses."

Looks like more cats joining the fight.

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