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AT&T Presses FCC To Crack Down on Google Voice

AT&T stepped up its campaign for greater federal scrutiny of Google's voice service, reasserting in a letter to the Federal Communications Commission Wednesday that the search giant's Web phone application violates both telecom and net neutrality laws.

Last Friday, the FCC launched an inquiry into Google Voice's blocking of calls and began an review of whether the application should be regulated as a traditional telephone service, also known as a common carrier. Google has rejected such claims, saying in a blog posting that Google Voice is a Web application and not a telecom service.

Sources at the FCC who spoke on the condititon of anonymity said the FCC inquiry focuses on the question of potential violations of telecommunications law. The agency does not plan to look into potential violations of net neutrality -- or open-Internet guidelines -- because officials didn't appear to agree with such claims.

In its 13-page letter, AT&T criticized Google for blocking calls to an ambulance service, community center and tribal community center. AT&T said it tested the Google Voice service and found that calls weren't connected to those phone numbers but worked with other phone services.

"In this case, and contrary to the public pronouncements of Google and its allies, Google’s rural call blocking regime is not limited to Google simply blocking calls to 'adult sex chat lines' and 'free' conference calling services to avoid high access charges," wrote AT&T's senior vice president, Bob Quinn, in the letter to the FCC's wireline bureau.

"As communications services increasingly migrate to broadband Internet-based platforms, we can now see the power of Internet-based applications providers to act as gatekeepers who can threaten the 'free and open' Internet," Quinn wrote.

Google and public interest groups have described AT&T's criticism as hypocritical, arguing that the phone giant is trying to get regulators to punish Google for violating the very rules it has pushed against at the FCC.

By Cecilia Kang  |  October 14, 2009; 4:38 PM ET
 
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Next: FCC Blogs On Net Neutrality

Comments

So typical...

Here's some advice for AT&T watchers... It's like attending a magic show so when the "magician" is on stage, watch the hand that is NOT moving - then you will see some really interesting moves.

I have one word of caution for AT&T here - "Carterfone." Hopefully the grunions and sardines at AT&T will have sufficient foresight to review the Carterfone case and be reminded that they are not above the law themselves. (Can they say "iPhone," "Walled Garden," and "anti-competitive behavior" in the same sentence?)

Just saying...

Posted by: mikand | October 15, 2009 6:51 AM | Report abuse

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