AT&T says Google Voice won’t let users call areas where carriers charge high access fees, protecting Google from paying certain access costs. Other service providers can’t do that and AT&T complained late last week that Google is able to reduce its access expenses because of the loophole.
Better yet, though, AT&T is accusing Google of violating – gasp! – the FCC’s net neutrality principles (a rather priceless allegation from the company that abhors net neutrality codification).
Google defends itself by saying the point of Google Voice is to give users “free or low-cost access to as many advanced communications features as possible.” So, yes, the company said in a policy blog on Sept. 25, Google “does restrict certain outbound calls from our Web platforms to these high-priced destinations.”
Here’s an except from that blog:
“But despite AT&T’s efforts to blur the distinctions between Google Voice and traditional phone service, there are many significant differences:
AT&T is trying to make this about Google’s support for an open Internet, but the comparison just doesn’t fly.”
Google says the problem really comes down to the intercarrier compensation regime. Indeed, that system has grown from a well-intentioned regime of payments among providers to one easily rigged to benefit certain carriers. Everyone in the industry agrees it needs to be overhauled but they don’t agree how to do that. If AT&T wasn’t allowed to charge high fees, Google says, blocking calls to those areas wouldn’t be necessary.