Robert Quinn Jr, AT&T Senior Vice President, has fired off another letter to the FCC complaining that Google violates both telephone provider and net neutrality regulations. It follows up on a letter from last month he wrote, in which he alleged that certain rural numbers were being blocked in Google Voice.
In the lastest letter Quinn is trying to make the case that Google can be considered a telecom provider, and even if it isnt, then the FCC regulations should still be applied: “But Google’s call blocking begs an even more important question that the Commission must consider as it evaluates whether to adopt rules regarding Internet openness. If the Commission is going to be a smart cop on the beat preserving a free and open Internet, then shouldnt its beat necessarily cover the entire Internet neighborhood, including Google? Indeed, if the Commission cannot stop Google from blocking disfavored telephone calls as Google contends, then how could the Commission ever stop Google from also blocking disfavored websites from appearing in the results of its search engine; or prohibit Google from blocking access to applications that compete with its own email, text messaging, cloud computing and other services; or otherwise prevent Google from abusing the gatekeeper control it wields over the Internet?”
None of this changes the fact that Google does not currently violate any FCC policy, since it doesn’t thwart competitors from offering Google Voice users alternative services. A bit hypocritical, considering that AT&T has wielded their power with Apple to block iPhone apps from streaming video across wireless broadband, meantime offering their own video service over their wireless network.
For background on the story, see our earlier post on why the FCC is requesting details about Google Voice from the search giant. The can of worms AT&T and Google opened here is crawling further afield; in a related story, Great Lakes Communication Corp, a local exchange carrier (LEC) has just submitted a filing to the FCC asking them to look into the call-blocking practices of other VOIP services, including MagicJack and Speakeasy.