Uncommon Wisdom

Sep 28 2009   5:53PM GMT

AT&T swipes at Google in net neutrality debate

Tom Nolle Tom Nolle Profile: Tom Nolle

AT&T is punching back at Google’s long advocacy of net neutrality, accusing the company of violating its own principles with Google Voice. The primary issue is that Google blocks calls to rural exchanges that charge high termination fees per call. Google says that’s because Voice is a free service, and that in any event, it’s not a telco and isn’t bound by net neutrality principles.

The free voice argument is a weak one because Google doesn’t admit telcos could reject net neutrality principles for lack of profit, and the net neutrality argument is a weak public position at a time when the FCC is considering broader net neutrality scope.

We think the play will raise some essential questions about whether net neutrality needs to be carefully structured to avoid creating what in effect is market-by-avoidance.

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