Weekly Round-Up: AT&T, Google, and the FCC Go Toe-to-Toe

Is Google Voice a true telecom service to be held accountable by FCC guidelines?  AT&T seems to think so.  At the end of September, AT&T sent the FCC a complaint as to Google’s tendency to block certain rural areas from coverage, breaking from FCC policy.  Should web applications and services that are continuously blurring the lines between phone and internet service be under the jurisdiction of the FCC?  The back and forth debate intensifies this week….

Here’s the story, the response, and the blogosphere’s analysis:

Real Tech News

“This will prove to you that the FCC does read stuff, at least when it comes from the likes of AT&T. About two weeks ago, AT&T sent a letter to the FCC accusing Google with violating FCC regulations by blocking calls to certain rural areas from its Google Voice service. Apparently the FCC listened.

Certain rural companies may charge high access fees to reach certain customers. AT&T complained that, while telecommunications companies cannot block access to those numbers, Google Voice was. Google’s stance is that its service is not a true telecom, and additionally, that the service is free….”


“AT&T has just given Google a taste of its own mandated openness medicine, successfully goading federal regulators into officially looking into why Google’s Voice service blocks phone calls to certain rural numbers.

In a letter sent Friday, the FCC is asking Google to explain why it blocks numbers, how it does it and why it thinks it’s legally allowed to do so….”

Google Public Policy Blog

“Back in July, the FCC sent letters to Apple, AT&T, and Google asking about the rejection of the Google Voice for iPhone app.

When we submitted our letter on August 21, we asked the FCC to redact certain portions that involved sensitive commercial conversations between two companies — namely, a description of e-mails, telephone conversations, and in-person meetings between executives at Google and Apple….”

Bits – New York Times Technology Blog

“The debate over net neutrality, or at least the lobbying war around it, appears to be intensifying.

Last month, AT&T asked the Federal Communications Commission to investigate Google Voice, saying it violated the commission’s net neutrality principles….”

Brian Mehler is a former MA student at Georgetown University’s department of Communication, Culture and Technology. While completing his BA in English Literature at Villanova University, he focused his studies on the role of new media in contemporary art, critical theory and digital poetics. A native of Freeport, ME, he has worked as a consultant and researcher in the non-profit sector for the Phoenix Foundation- a Portland-based organization that teaches ethical leadership and alternative learning throughout northern New England. Between his academic endeavors, Brian took a year off to travel, mostly backpacking through India and Nepal where he spent most of his time exploring the Kathmandu Valley and trekking in the Himalayas. In Washington DC, his research focuses on cultural narratives, social innovation, international development and visual theory.