AT&T strikes out at Google Voice

AT&T has sent a letter to the FCC alleging that Google's Google Voice service is violating call connection rules. In addition, AT&T believes that Google is also violating the FCC's "net neutrality" principles that were created to enable users to access any legal Internet service. This latest accusation is likely to be one of many skirmishes over network management that will become common between classic telephone providers and newer Internet companies.

Robert Quinn, AT&T's senior vice president for federal regulations, argued in a letter to the FCC that Google not only gains an unfair advantage if its service goes unregulated, but also that Internet providers overall should be subject to the same regulation as traditional telephone operators.   

"To the extent 'net neutrality' is animated by a concern about ostensible Internet 'gatekeepers,' that concern must necessarily apply to application, service and content providers," Quinn wrote in the letter. He added that the FCC "cannot, through inaction or otherwise, give Google a special privilege to play by its own rules while the rest of the industry, including those who compete with Google, must instead adhere to (FCC) regulations."

Interestingly, AT&T's letter arose only a few days after FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski proposed net neutrality rules for wireless and wireline service providers.

In response, Google executives said in a blog posting on Friday that Google Voice is not subject to the same rules put on traditional phone companies because subscribers only can use it if they have existing phone service. The FCC's proposed net neutrality rules "apply only to broadband carriers -- not Web-based software applications. Even though the FCC does not have jurisdiction over software applications, AT&T apparently wants to use the regulatory process to undermine Web-based competition and innovation.

For more:
- Wall Street Journal has this article

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