Earlier today Techcrunch reported that AT&T sent a letter to the FCC complaining that Google was violating net neutrality principles by blocking calls that Google Voice customers make to telephone numbers associated with certain local exchange carriers. Google offered a quick background on the situation: “Local telephone carriers charge long-distance companies for originating and terminating calls to and from their networks. Certain local carriers in rural areas charge AT&T and other long-distance companies especially high rates to connect calls to their networks. Sometimes these local carriers partner and share revenue with adult chat services, conference calling centers, party lines, and others that are able to attract lots of incoming phone calls to their networks. Under the common carrier laws, AT&T and other traditional phone companies are required to connect these calls.”
Furthermore Google went on to state the differences between Google Voice and traditional carriers like AT&T:
- 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.
AT&T has tried in the past to restrict the same calls that Google Voice is able to restrict. AT&T’s letter to the FCC makes them come off as the jealous step-child. I don’t think the FCC will think much of this complaint.