AT&T hits Google again over call blocking

AT&T struck out again at Google over the Internet giant's Google Voice service, arguing the offering blocks calls to Benedictine nuns and small businesses. AT&T, in sharp language, asserted Google is openly trying to mislead the FCC about the nature of the service.

Google concedes that its Voice service blocks certain calls, but does so because local phone carriers charge extremely high connection rates and because they partner with adult chat lines and conference call centers that charge high rates.

In a 13-page letter to the FCC, AT&T said that the commission has the authority to regulate Google Voice, and reiterated many of its arguments on the topic. "More importantly, despite the efforts of Google and its supporters to obfuscate this issue, Google's call blocking is directly related to 'net neutrality,'" wrote Robert Quinn, AT&T's senior vice president for federal regulatory affairs. "Indeed, Google's power to block calls--as well as its ability to abuse its market power in search and other services--dramatically underscores why the commission cannot rationally exempt Google or any provider of Internet-based information services from any rules designed to preserve a 'free and open Internet.'"

Following AT&T's first letter on the issue, the FCC last week sent a letter to Google asking questions about the nature of Google Voice; responses are due to the FCC by Oct. 28.

AT&T has come out as a fierce opponent of stronger and more enforceable net neutrality regulations, which the FCC is set to vote on next week. Google, for its part, has accused AT&T of hypocrisy in the matter for withholding payments to local exchange carriers.

A Google spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

For more:
- see this WSJ article (sub. req.)
- see this Washington Post article
- see AT&T's letter

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