AT&T comes to blows with Google again

In the latest installment of AT&T's ongoing battle with Google, Ma Bell is now accusing the Internet search engine operator of blocking calls to of all places Benedictine nuns, a campaign office and more rural-based small businesses.

Google did admit that its Google Voice service will bock some calls, especially those whose destinations are pornographic chat or free conference call services such as What's more, Google said it does block calls in rural markets where call connection rates are more expensive. The practice that AT&T is taking issue with and Google is trying to work around is what's known as "traffic pumping," a process where service providers will try to increase their revenue by routing calls through more expensive rural markets.

In a letter to the FCC, AT&T outlined a list of areas where these so-called "traffic pumpers" will route traffic. To prove its point, AT&T employees used the Google Voice application to call a convent of Benedictine Nuns in Minnesota and the campaign office of Rep. Collin Peterson and found the calls were blocked. However, a spokeswoman for Rep. Peterson did not report any issues with constituents reaching his campaign office.

AT&T's latest salvo comes as the FCC pushes its net neutrality rules that are designed to prevent companies like Google from preventing a subscriber from denying access or throttling down specific Internet traffic. Google maintains that it wants to prevent large service providers such as AT&T from controlling the way consumers and business users use the Internet, while services maintain they need the freedom to manage their respective networks.

For more:
- Wall Street Journal has this article

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