On Friday, AT&T filed a letter with the FCC accusing Google Voice of violating network neutrality principles. Google Voice doesn’t work with certain numbers that AT&T, as an old-fashioned landline and mobile provider, does.
There’s an entire world of fees that we consumers never see, but that phone companies fight over. Google’s Public Policy Blog sums up the situation relatively succinctly:
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. In the past they’ve argued that these rural carriers are abusing the system to “establish grossly excessive access charges under false pretenses,” and to “offer kickbacks to operators of pornographic chat lines and other calling services.”
Whether AT&T’s point is valid or not depends on what, precisely, Google Voice is. Is it a phone company? Not really. Is it a broadband provider? No.
AT&T Says Google Voice Violates Net Neutrality Principles [NYTimes]
Response to AT&T’s letter to FCC on Google Voice [Google Public Policy Blog]