In a letter to the FCC, AT&T is claiming that Google Voice is violating net neutrality principles by failing to deliver calls to certain rural exchanges. But Google and others point out that Google is not an ISP and the rules do not apply.
Here is the gist of the dispute. Small rural phone companies charge very high fees to connect long distance or wireless calls – far higher than most large-market companies. Common carrier telephone companies such as AT&T are required to connect to the rural services regardless; however, Google has been avoiding them so it can continue to offer free or low cost access to its other services.
Google claims it is not an ISP company, it is merely providing an innovative internet application, and that the matter is not a net neutrality matter at all.
Communications watchdog Free Press came down strong on Google’s side, also pointing out that it is not an ISP, and not remotely comparable to AT&T, Comcast and other companies that are ISPs.
“To be clear, the FCC’s open Internet principles apply to Internet Service Providers — those companies that control the on-ramps to the information Superhighway,” said Free Press’s Derek Turner. “The Internet Policy Statement applies only to Internet access services. Whatever regulatory or technical classifications it may eventually fall under, Google Voice is certainly not an Internet access service.”
Turner said maybe Google’s and other similar services would receive some sort of new classification in the future, but that AT&T should be careful what it wishes for. Free Press would like to classify its U-verse video and text messaging services – something AT&T has been fighting for a long time.
RBR-TVBR observation: The internet really is still in its infancy. And regulation is going to be a work in progress for a long time too. And we will see many occasions where the battle has nothing to do with Democrats and Republicans or left and right, but rather two giant corporations locking horns, each trying to take advantage of the rules as they are at any given moment for their own business advantage.
Just like Randy Michaels in his Jacor days was against radio ownership consolidation. Until consolidation became the law of the land and Michaels evolved into the biggest consolidator who ever lived (albeit for the Mays family).