Google Voice violates net neutrality: AT&T

Dylan Bushell-Embling
28 Sep 2009

US operator AT&T has lashed out at Google Voice, telling the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that the app violates its suggested net neutrality principles.

The application blocks calls to telephone numbers in some rural US communities as a means of keeping operating expenses minimal, the AT&T told the FCC in a letter.

But this is a violation of the net neutrality principles espoused by Google, as well as new FCC chairman Julius Genachowski - who plans to introduce regulation mandating them - the company said.

“According to Google, non-discrimination ensures that a provider 'cannot block fair access' to another provider,” AT&T SVP Robert Quinn wrote. “But that is exactly what Google is doing when it blocks calls... to telephone numbers associated with certain local exchange carriers.”

Responding to the allegations, Google's Washington counsel Richard Whitt said the principles “apply only to the behavior of broadband carriers -- not the creators of web-based software applications.... the FCC does not have jurisdiction over how software applications function.”

But Quinn added that the practice is also a violation of FCC's competition regulations.

“Even if Google Voice is [just] an 'Internet application,' Google would still be subject to the commission’s Internet Policy Statement, whose fourth principle states that “consumers are entitled to competition among network providers, application and service providers, and content providers,” he said.

Meanwhile, a Republican senator who had been opposed to the FCC's neutrality efforts last week agreed to hold off on attempts to ban net neutrality legislation while she discusses her concerns with the regulators.

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