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AT&T blasts Google Voice in new FCC letter

Written by James Delahunty (Google+) @ 26 Sep 2009 13:55 User comments (1)

AT&T blasts Google Voice in new FCC letter In a letter to the Federal Communication Commission (FCC), AT&T accused Google of ignoring FCC regulations and called the company a hypocrite over its policies with the Google Voice application. Long-distance providers, such as AT&T, are required to pay fees to local phone companies for access to their landline networks, and FCC regulations ban long-distance providers from call blocking.
The result is that if AT&T, or another long-distance provider, wants to continue operating as a long-distance provider, then they cannot ignore local/rural areas and simply have to pay fees to the local phone companies. The rule, which has been in place since 2007, is seen as unfair by the providers who say the fees they are charged are too expensive.

In AT&T's letter, the company asked the FCC to review this decision. However, the letter is mostly aimed at Google Voice. Google Voice does not connect to all markets - the company blocks the application from connecting phone calls in certain rural areas. To AT&T, this is an unfair advantage over AT&T and other long-distance providers that are not allowed to block calls to select rural areas.

"By openly flaunting the call blocking prohibition that applies to its competitors, Google is acting in a manner inconsistent with the spirit, if not the letter, of the FCC's fourth principle contained in its Internet Policy Statement," Robert Quinn, senior vice president of federal regulatory affairs at AT&T, said. "Ironically, Google is also flouting the so-called 'fifth principle of non-discrimination' for which Google has so fervently advocated."

The principle that AT&T says Google ironically supports, is a proposed fifth principal to the FCC's Internet rules that would effectively block ISPs from discrimination against certain applications or content in bandwidth distribution. On AT&T's main complaint, Google asserts that Google Voice is not a traditional phone service and is not subject to same FCC rules that AT&T is.

"Unlike traditional carriers, Google Voice is a free, Web-based software application, and so not subject to common carrier laws," Richard Whitt, Washington telecom and media counsel for Google, wrote. "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."

He added that Google Voice in its current form is still an invite-only service with a limited number of customers. AT&T however, argues that even if Google Voice is considered just an Internet application, it is still subject to the FCC's fourth Internet policy principle. It states that "consumers are entitled to competition among network providers, applications, and service providers, and content providers."

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1 user comment

16.10.2009 1:34

Ha! good! screw AT&T, cant handle competition....G Voice is Voip why the hell should it have to comply, we pay our fees by paying our ISPs!
Just cuz there losing money from ripping us off all these years.

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