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AT&T Calls Google a Hypocrite On Net Neutrality

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the everybody-wants-to-take-a-shot-at-the-champ dept.

Communications 95

NotBornYesterday writes "AT&T is accusing Google of being a hypocrite when it comes to Net neutrality because it blocks certain phone calls on its Google Voice service. 'By openly flaunting the call-blocking prohibition that applies to its competitors, Google is acting in a manner inconsistent with the spirit, if not the letter, of the FCC's fourth principle contained in its Internet Policy Statement,' Robert Quinn, AT&T's senior vice president focusing on federal regulation, said in a statement. Google blocks certain calls to avoid high costs due to a practice known as traffic pumping. Rural carriers can charge connection fees that are about 100 times higher than the rates that large local phone companies can charge. In traffic pumping, they share this revenue with adult chat services, conference-calling centers, party lines, and others that are able to attract lots of incoming phone calls to their networks. Google responded by saying that the rules AT&T refers to don't apply to Google Voice for several reasons. Google Voice is a software application that offers a service on top of the existing telco infrastructure, it is a free service, and it is not intended to be a replacement for traditional telephone service. In fact, the service requires that users have a landline phone or a wireless phone."

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95 comments

Those who live by the sword... (1, Insightful)

Ralph Spoilsport (673134) | more than 4 years ago | (#29548859)

...get shot by those who don't.

Re:Those who live by the sword... (3, Insightful)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 4 years ago | (#29548895)

No, I think it's more akin to "Oh yeah? Your mother wears army boots!"

It's not even the 'battleground of business'. It's a 5th grade playground.

Re:Those who live by the sword... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29548969)

It's a bar in redneck country in which many nigger jokes are told. You could tell a few hundred waiting for Slashdot's slo

Re:Those who live by the sword... (3, Interesting)

Ralph Spoilsport (673134) | more than 4 years ago | (#29548985)

No, I think it's more akin to "Oh yeah? Your mother wears army boots!"

HAHAHAHAA!

Yeah - you've got a point. From my end, I used to work at ATT back in the evil early 80s, and it was one of the most corrupt and arrogant places I was ever involved with. And they were always the people bringing a knife to a gun fight - fighting this year's war with last year's technology and last decade's strategy. Clusterfuck central. There are ways to deal with all of this, but ATT lacks the creativity, and Google is too opportunistic to work any of it out. Sigh. Trainwreck on the count of three... 1... 2...

Re:Those who live by the sword... (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 4 years ago | (#29556585)

So far the telcos have bought enough legislation to the point where they have almost reunited into Ma Bell. This isn't last decade's strategy; litigating your way to corporate success is as old as the corporation (lawyers have been around far longer.)

Pretty sure AT&T has been all up in its Machiavelli for long enough to know what it's doing. This is a potentially transformative time, though; it will be interesting to see what the consumer demands. It is very often not precisely what the PowersThatBe want to sell them... though it is usually unfortunately close.

Re:Those who live by the sword... (5, Insightful)

NickFortune (613926) | more than 4 years ago | (#29549049)

I quite agree.

Just for a second, suppose AT&T have got a point. That still wouldn't turn Net Neutrality a bad idea.

This is just a corporate level ad-hominem attack: Google are hypocrites, therefore they are Wrong, and their ideas are all Bad.

I reckon AT&T must be getting desperate if they're scraping this far down into the bottom of the barrel.

AT&T Doesn't Have a Good Point (5, Interesting)

Alaren (682568) | more than 4 years ago | (#29549221)

You don't even have to suppose that AT&T has a good point. They don't.

"Network Neutrality" is another way of saying, "preserve peering [wikipedia.org] ." (This was pointed out by the AC post here [slashdot.org] .

As I point out here [slashdot.org] , AT&T hates traffic pumping [usatoday.com] , too.

But AT&T is in a bind. As a common carrier, under FCC rules they can't go blocking these numbers unless you actually request it (for which they will probably charge you a fee). Because phone networks lack peering, dialing into certain rural networks can cost more. So AT&T has to either charge you extra for the call (which means they can't offer "flat rate" plans), or eat the extra cost. Because the phone network is not neutral, traffic pumping presents an opportunity for unscrupulous profiteering, namely, charging at both ends of the transaction (which is what AT&T wants to be able to do with the internet by eliminating network neutrality).

So Google is not behaving hypocritically for one simple reason: Google seeks to participate in network activity where peering is intact. Paying the extra fees rather than blocking these traffic pumping calls would violate the principle of network neutrality by financially supporting a clear violation of the peering approach.

imagine if the same thing happened to the internet (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29549791)

The lack of neutrality on the phone network exists because AT&T (along with the other Regional Bell Operating Companies, aka "ex-AT&T's" aka "Incumbent Local Exchange Comapnies") lobbied for it and they did so out of a belief that *they* owned the most valuable phone network resource (lots of subscribers) and could use the lack of peering to block competitors from entering the market (even though that was THE reason the courts caused the RBOCs to be created) by charging the competitors (CLECs) huge fees to access AT&T's customers which the CLECs would, in turn, have to pass on to their customers. Who'd buy phone service from Vonage if they had to charge you 15 times as much as AT&T or Verizon just so that Vonage customers could sometimes dial AT&T or Verizon customers?

Now the "incumbent" ISPs are making the same mistake in believing that *they* control the most valuable Internet resource (again, lots of subscribers) and want the right to charge connection fees. So what if somebody repeats what happened in the phone network world and starts up a small (restricted customer set) top-tier ISP and promises to give Google or Youtube absolutely free Internet service with the expectation that the ISP will recoup that cost (and much more) by charging the "incumbent" ISPs huge fees to connect people with Google's servers? Cha-Ching!

You'd think these people would learn from their mistakes...

Re:AT&T Doesn't Have a Good Point (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29550725)

keep in mind that AT&T DOES block calls on it's mobile network. All international long distance and Toll numbers (1-900) are blocked by default. The 900 numbers can not even be unblocked on mobile phones. To enable international calling, one has to phone in and undergo a type of credit check before the feature will be enabled. (However, this feature is frequently added if you meet the requirements without your knowledge if you add any form of long distance/roaming to canada or mexico, since unfortunately, representatives are not trained to know that the feature isn't required for Canada, but is for Mexico.)

Re:AT&T Doesn't Have a Good Point (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29550745)

You're assuming Google have a peering relationship with AT&T. Since its believed google are not a Tier 1 Carrier, AT&T can still charge google a market-driven transit price.

Re:AT&T Doesn't Have a Good Point (1)

NickFortune (613926) | more than 4 years ago | (#29551051)

You don't even have to suppose that AT&T has a good point. They don't.

Doesn't matter whether they do or they don't. Their argument is bogus either way. Why bother evaluating terms beyond those necessary?

Simple Answer (1)

Alaren (682568) | more than 4 years ago | (#29551653)

Thoroughness.

Why level just one criticism when you can level two from different angles? Think of it as a flanking maneuver.

Re:Simple Answer (1)

Razalhague (1497249) | more than 4 years ago | (#29554173)

A couple more criticisms and we'll have them completely surrounded!

Re:Simple Answer (1)

NickFortune (613926) | more than 4 years ago | (#29555719)

That seems fair enough. I think I must have been crankier than usual, last night.

Re:Those who live by the sword... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29549409)

I quite agree.

Just for a second, suppose AT&T have got a point. That still wouldn't turn Net Neutrality a bad idea.

This is just a corporate level ad-hominem attack: Google are hypocrites, therefore they are Wrong, and their ideas are all Bad.

I reckon AT&T must be getting desperate if they're scraping this far down into the bottom of the barrel.

Does Google provide dial tone?

They aren't a telephone company.

done/done.

Re:Those who live by the sword... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29549803)

Yeah.. just TRY to call any AT&T conference calling service with a VOIP phone.. it rings off the hook. Dial in with an iPhone, and you get right in.

Re:Those who live by the sword... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29549117)

Well your mother wears combat slippers!

Traffic Pumping = 0900 Service numbers ? (1, Offtopic)

zaibazu (976612) | more than 4 years ago | (#29548887)

I am German, those extra expensive "service" numbers are usually 0900 numbers, is that the same system in the USA ?

why yes it is (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29548975)

except we don't have 1-900-KILL-ALL-JEWS in the US

Re:why yes it is (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29549009)

Nope, our version is: 1-900-SUCCESSFUL-GENOCIDE

Re:Traffic Pumping = 0900 Service numbers ? (0, Offtopic)

Todd Knarr (15451) | more than 4 years ago | (#29548989)

No. The US only has the 800/888 numbers (called party pays), there's no special area code reserved for premium-rate numbers.

Re:Traffic Pumping = 0900 Service numbers ? (1)

i.r.id10t (595143) | more than 4 years ago | (#29549005)

Yeah, 900 area code is by minute or flat rate charge. There's also the party pays mentioned above, but it is more than 800/888 area code- there's 5 or 6 of 'em now IIRC

Re:Traffic Pumping = 0900 Service numbers ? (1)

geminidomino (614729) | more than 4 years ago | (#29550631)

Has this changed in recent years, or are you full of it?

I still remember 900-premium numbers being targeted at kids. Remember Santa's Christmas Phone or Grandpa Munster's Halloween? Same number, too... funny that,

It was like $2.95 for the first min, .95/addl

He's full of it. (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 4 years ago | (#29550713)

n/t

Re:Traffic Pumping = 0900 Service numbers ? (2, Informative)

Tacvek (948259) | more than 4 years ago | (#29549053)

The services question are 1-900-xxx-xxxx numbers here, and charge outrageous fees. The problem is that in some rural areas, apparently, the small teclos charge the long distance carriers (the phone network backbone) significantly more to connect each call then the connection would normally be worth. The per connection fee is charged to the long distance carrier regardless of what type of number is dialed.

These small telcos then agree to share revenue from connection costs with those 900 number services, in exchange for them using them for service. Those numbers are high volume, so they pull in many, many calls. If the revenue sharing is done right, by doing this the small telco can make more money then if they did not partner with these services, and instead charged a reasonable connection fee. Under such a system, both the small telco and the 900 number service benefit, at the expense of the long distance carrier.

The result of all this is that it cost more for Google (or AT&T, or any long distance carrier) to connect a call to the normal numbers served by that small Telco then it should, because those calls are subsidizing the 900 number services.

Since Google is providing a free service, the additional expense of those calls hurts them much more than a traditional long-distance carrier. For Google any connection costs are being payed for from revenue from other ventures, since they make no money on this. For AT&T they get payed each month by the customer. Now, AT&T really cant charge more for those calls, since they generally charge a flat rate per call charge, or more often these days, a flat rate per line (unlimited number of calls). But never the less, AT&T is making money from their long distance service, even with these extra charges, so it is not as big a deal to them.

Re:Traffic Pumping = 0900 Service numbers ? (3, Informative)

djweis (4792) | more than 4 years ago | (#29549105)

This doesn't have anything to do with 900 numbers, it has to do with toll calls to rural telephone carriers. They are allowed to set arbitrary rates that AT&T and other LD carriers must/should pay. To entice calls they offer free conference call systems or other services that cause people in other areas to call these toll numbers.

Re:Traffic Pumping = 0900 Service numbers ? (1)

blackraven14250 (902843) | more than 4 years ago | (#29550707)

....and the 900 numbers locate themselves in rural areas, and share in the extra (local) telco revenue from those charges. The charges apply no matter what type of number it is.

Re:Traffic Pumping = 0900 Service numbers ? (4, Informative)

sjames (1099) | more than 4 years ago | (#29549711)

All of this is based on a crazy fee structure created by the big telecoms in an effort to drive out smaller competition. There has been a multi-decade war of defining fee structures that look fairish but are anything but that in practice followed by some provider finding a loophole and raking in a fortune. That, in turn, causes the large providers to demand a re-structuring all while pretending the last one wasn't their idea. Lather, rinse, repeat endlessly.

All of this is exactly the sort of double dipping they want to implement for the internet and it's 100% anti-neutrality.

Fundamentally, cross charging other carriers is bogus since each already got paid a fair fee by their own customer to provide the service. That is, I have a phone and I pay a monthly fee for it. That fee is in part for the service of accepting incoming calls for me and connecting them. I have already paid the call 'termination fee'. If my provider refuses to connect a call for me to my paid for phone line (presumably if another carrier originating the call refuses to pay termination fees), they are ripping ME off by not providing what I paid for.

So, actually, Google is pressing for proper neutrality in the VoIP world by refusing to participate in an anti-neutrality scheme that was in-part created by AT&T.

Money (1)

camcorder (759720) | more than 4 years ago | (#29548891)

And anyone can call AT&T a hypocrite not knowing when money involved companies lose comprehension of ethics and become evil somehow.

Beta (2, Funny)

Starlon (1492461) | more than 4 years ago | (#29548933)

Google will just claim that it's still in beta.

hmph (3, Insightful)

shentino (1139071) | more than 4 years ago | (#29548943)

I see no problem.

Google is just protecting itself from unscrupulous end-line telcos.

Re:hmph (3, Insightful)

crispytwo (1144275) | more than 4 years ago | (#29549507)

exactly, and by doing these blocks, it encourages the unscrupulous end-line telcos to go out of business, or change their ways, that benefit both Google and AT&T and others.

It sounds like AT&T are just idiots here...

Re:hmph (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29550759)

exactly, and by doing these blocks, it encourages the unscrupulous end-line telcos to go out of business, or change their ways, ... or fling mud and call people hypocrits.

I wonder which they option they chos- oh I see.

Big difference (4, Insightful)

Todd Knarr (15451) | more than 4 years ago | (#29548979)

One major difference between what Google's doing and what AT&;T would like to do: AT&T wants to block/limit something the user wants to do and that they are doing deliberately, when the blocking benefits AT&T and negatively affects the user. Google is blocking something the user doesn't know (before they get the bill, at least) would happen and didn't ask for, and the blocking benefits the user (by keeping them from being unwittingly charged a large sum of money) and not Google. The whole reason those rural numbers are used, after all, is specifically because they can charge high rates without it being apparent from the number that the charges are going to be any higher than normal. They're used to deceive callers into thinking the call's a regular one and not one that'll be charged at a premium rate. Blocking that deception is, IMO, just ever so slightly different from keeping a user from using a service they want to use.

You misunderstand (3, Interesting)

Rix (54095) | more than 4 years ago | (#29549307)

The user doesn't get charged at all, just the phone company. The rural phone companies are exploiting a sideways subsidy meant to allow them to charge more for connections to rural homes by redirecting calls to large call centres through their networks. It's a shell game.

Re:Big difference (4, Informative)

SuperQ (431) | more than 4 years ago | (#29549321)

Unfortunately, you're a bit incorrect about this. If you look around at these other posts, the issue is that even tho you dial any XXX-XXX-XXXX number in the US like it's local, AT&T and Google still both pay long-distance fees in the case of these rural lines. AT&T isn't allowed by federal rules to block these gouging calls, but since Google Voice is an overlay network basically they can. AT&T is just mad because they can't block the calls too.

As was said by someone else on this post, if net neutrality existed on phone networks, this wouldn't be an issue.

Re:Big difference (1)

Rich0 (548339) | more than 4 years ago | (#29549929)

As was said by someone else on this post, if net neutrality existed on phone networks, this wouldn't be an issue.

True, but if we want net neutrality on phones then probably a good first step would be getting rid of all the crazy pricing schemes that exist. Frankly, these kinds of scams aren't fair to ANYBODY.

Look, I'm fine with a system that lets some farmer have a phone without having to pay $500 per month, but there has to be a better way. Net Neutrality doesn't mean charging people using pricing games for providing a "service" that they don't actually need (such as providing "rural" service to a call center that is actually located in a city).

Warn, don't block? (1)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 4 years ago | (#29550249)

If Google's charging for this service, and thus passing these costs on to the customer, it's a bit like anti-phishing -- there should be a warning, but it shouldn't be blocked entirely. And it should be possible to turn the warning off.

That's the difference, and that's a possible valid point AT&T might have.

Except I think Google Voice is a free service, which means Google would essentially be swallowing these fees. What they're doing here is more akin to a backbone ISP refusing to peer with another, and I'm not sure that goes against net neutrality.

Sure, it's offending the spirit of the law, but... (4, Interesting)

PC and Sony Fanboy (1248258) | more than 4 years ago | (#29548995)

Since when do telcos abide by the spirit of the law?

Looking first at broadband penetration, they want everyone to have broadband. At 4x the speed of a 56kbps modem. With download caps. And traffic shaping. Who's violating the spirit of the law?

Moving along to cell phone inter-operability. Although many telcos allow you to use outside phones on their networks, actually unlocking a phone is nearly impossible (with a few exceptions). Granted, they've subsidized your phone purchase. But you subsidize their paycheques.

Next topic: Phone number portability. It wasn't that long ago that you couldn't actually move your phone number when you left your portable phone company for another. So much for portability.

Finally... It's AT&T. They outsource (and violate the american dream!) and barely train their call centre employees. It is impossibly difficult to get out of a contract, even when they've violated the terms, and they charge for checking your voice mail and receiving text messages. Although they're legally allowed to do that, it violates the spirit of only paying for time that you use!

... also, they're owned by satan, but that's beside the point.

Re:Sure, it's offending the spirit of the law, but (1)

Kongming (448396) | more than 4 years ago | (#29549111)

I'm not really your target audience here, but if you are trying to persuade the crowd that would be influenced by appeals to the "american dream", you might want to modify your spelling of "centre". They're pretty big on the "English-only" thing, and they have an odd definition of "English".

Re:Sure, it's offending the spirit of the law, but (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29549137)

"centre" is the English spelling, even Americans use it some of the time (dependent upon where each was brought up or edumacated?). But obviously not the type that use "nite".

Re:Sure, it's offending the spirit of the law, but (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29549197)

Center is the correct spelling, you fucking twit.

Anyone who knows jackshit about Engilsh knows that the English spoken in the United States is more similar to Olde Engish than the English spoken in England.

Re:Sure, it's offending the spirit of the law, but (1)

F34nor (321515) | more than 4 years ago | (#29552185)

Wow buddy I think you've been drinking a little too much of the Olde English 800.

Re:Sure, it's offending the spirit of the law, but (1)

Samgilljoy (1147203) | more than 4 years ago | (#29549255)

When Americans use it, they use the spelling of another dialect of English. It is not a matter of where they grew up, other than the fact that the mistake is more likely to occur, if they were brought near people who employ another dialect. It is not a free variant in the American dialect.

Americans have no correct 'english'. (1)

PC and Sony Fanboy (1248258) | more than 4 years ago | (#29549715)

Now, correct me if I'm wrong (I'm sure you'll try to correct me no matter what), but there is no regulatory body for the english language. Although you might claim that there is an 'American' spelling, or an 'English' spelling (or a Canadian or Australian, or Indian, or Kiwi...) there is no body which regulates the english language (as there is for French, Spanish, etc).

Nor does the USA have an official language - generally speaking, everyone speaks english or spanish, but given the crazy laws that have been proposed (and failed) that would make English the 'official' language ... it appears that official american english isn't any more official than british english. Except that it isn't nearly so ... distinguished.

Y'all.

Re:Americans have no correct 'english'. (1)

PC and Sony Fanboy (1248258) | more than 4 years ago | (#29549723)

(Yes, I'm comparing RP to a southern drawl)

Re:Americans have no correct 'english'. (1)

Ansoni-San (955052) | more than 3 years ago | (#29584027)

Actually no, it's simple really. English is the language spoken in England, and however it evolves there. "English" is pretty accurate on its own. Nothing can change that fact...It's right there in the word!
Other dialects? great! But when it comes to nitpicking about the definition of "English", there's no argument.

Re:Sure, it's offending the spirit of the law, but (0, Troll)

mister_playboy (1474163) | more than 4 years ago | (#29549825)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_and_British_English_spelling_differences [wikipedia.org]

Spend a little time looking through the list, and you'll see the whole thing is such a big clusterfuck that neither variant can claim to be more "true" English than the other can.

Re:Sure, it's offending the spirit of the law, but (1)

alen (225700) | more than 4 years ago | (#29549375)

you can complain about telco's but Google's way of doing things for the last few years has been to take other companies' data and make money off it while giving nothing back.

Google bid on the 700MHz auction a few years ago and either lost or purposefully underbid to saddle VZW other ATT wtih debt while planning to ride on their network. if Google wants to be a telecom they should have won the auction or did like Boost Mobile and MetroPCS and start up a cell phone service by buying other frequencies.

Even Vonage had to bow to regulators a few years ago because it has been decided that the law is that if you provide a communications service there are a lot of laws you have to follow. and vonage tried to use the same argument

Re:Sure, it's offending the spirit of the law, but (1)

Otterley (29945) | more than 4 years ago | (#29549855)

What if Google had won the auction?

Re:Sure, it's offending the spirit of the law, but (1)

Idiomatick (976696) | more than 4 years ago | (#29555059)

Google bid to make the network more open and made the frequency more useful for EVERYONE... That was a very good thing. Weird you'd pick that to complain about, it was pretty much an act of charity to the whole of the US.

Re:Sure, it's offending the spirit of the law, but (1)

TeraCo (410407) | more than 4 years ago | (#29560677)

Google bid on the 700MHz auction a few years ago and either lost or purposefully underbid

I'm not sure if you understand how an auction works but there's no such thing as 'underbidding'. You bid what you want to pay, and if someone else wants to pay more they bid more. Your lack of auction savvy makes me wonder why you aren't condemning the other parties at the auction for purposefully inflating the price instead!

Re:Sure, it's offending the spirit of the law, but (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29549439)

but that's beside the point.

As is your entire post.

Your points are valid but that does not alter the fact that Google is blocking the rural numbers and AT&T is required by the FCC to not block those numbers. Thus Google has an unfair advantage in this particular case.

Re:Sure, it's offending the spirit of the law, but (1)

PC and Sony Fanboy (1248258) | more than 4 years ago | (#29549737)

Heh. Nice 'out of context' quotation there, Mr. Lawyer guy with an official, clearly legally binding and non-controversial opinion.

Re:Sure, it's offending the spirit of the law, but (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29550001)

Google does not provide dial tone and is not a phone company. All they do is provide a software switching service that routes calls and obfuscates a person's "real" number from their actual telco. I use the service to have multiple real phones (home, work, cell) ring at the same time when someone calls my google number. It is similar to an email service that just forwards to your current ISP's mail system. No dial tone. No rule. No wrong doing.

Re:Sure, it's offending the spirit of the law, but (1)

Jaysyn (203771) | more than 4 years ago | (#29550503)

Sucks to be a telephone monopoly like AT&T is sometimes, don't it?  I mean so what if they can basically print money & do whatever the fuck they want that isn't enshrined in law.

Re:Sure, it's offending the spirit of the law, but (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29550931)

Ugh, number portability. What a huge goddamn mess.
For the unwashed masses:

Your NPA-NXX is owned by the Local exchange carrier, When number portability came out, they basically said, "oh, well now we need twice as many numbers" One number is the REAL NPA-NXX (which is no longer your true phone number, and the other is the dialable number. So your phone number may be 123-555-1234, but the carrier's number may really be 321-555-8765. In a sense, each "phone number" is now really two. the one you dial, and the one that acts as your "address" in the phone network. Everytime you place a call, your local exchange carrier contacts the original owner of that number to find out if it still owns it. If it isn't still owned, then it goes 'ok, who does?", and contacts the number.

On a mobile phone, this is the MIN and MDN, you might see references to this if you have a CDMA phone. GSM phones will never know what their MIN is unless they call their carrier and ask. But it's not useful to you anyway.

But thats beside the point. Number portability, isn't. It's implemented as a series of work-arounds, and some carriers utilize call forwarding instead. There will never be a proper implmentation of number portability unless the phone system becomes an all digital, all IP peer network. Because then, instead of going 'who does own that number', people will be able to just phone mommy@example.com and the SIP or equivilent provider will send that along the lease expensive route possible. If mommy@ happens to have a IP phone, it would bypass the switched phone network entirely. If mommy@ doesn't, then long distance can be bypassed by having the call originate at the least-expensive termination point on the IP network.

People already do this with long distance cards and "unlimited mobile to mobile" calls. They simply bridge two end points of different carriers (eg verizon and at & t) by having both calls terminate at the same physical location or at VoIP locations and some hardware trickery. Given, it requires two mobile phones to setup, if you want to have unlimited calls to your kid in california on verizon while you are using at&t. Your kid calls into the local M2M number, and you call the local M2M number, and they connect it via VoIP. Yes there is lag, but hey, who cares when it's free?

Re:Sure, it's offending the spirit of the law, but (1)

Maestro485 (1166937) | more than 4 years ago | (#29551855)

I, sir, am very offended by the blatant lie in your post.

-Satan

Re:Sure, it's offending the spirit of the law, but (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29552395)

The current fix for number portability is permanent databases containing every number redirect ever. It's an ugly hack for a problem that is really a design flaw due to a bad assumption.

Possible motivation (3, Insightful)

Todd Knarr (15451) | more than 4 years ago | (#29549011)

Hmm, I just realized. IIRC AT&T (like most phone companies) offers a premium-rate-call blocking service themselves. One that you have to pay for, if they're like the others I'm familiar with. Google's blocking makes it unnecessary to pay for AT&T's blocking. I suspect that's why AT&T's upset.

Divorce infrastructure from service provision (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29549017)

This is yet another instance where the conflation of infrastructure with service muddies the picture.

Netneutrality should really be about neutrality in the network (ie the infrastructure/series of tubes) service providers USE the series of tubs and ought to be able to come up with whatever usage scheme they want as long as people will buy it.

Instead, in the US, at least, the service provider owns the infrastructure as well and we end up in obtuse arguments like this one complaining that a network USER is in violation of rules/principles which should govern network PROVIDERS.

Re:Divorce infrastructure from service provision (1)

dangitman (862676) | more than 4 years ago | (#29550613)

service providers USE the series of tubs

Does that mean the internet is actually a series of tubgirls?

Peering (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29549027)

If phone companies were to use peering, like ISPs do, then this would be a neutrality issue. Since there's no peering, and this is a simple matter of avoiding exorbitant costs, there's no neutrality issue.

Re:Peering (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29549571)

Well, phone companies do peer. How else do you think a call from AT&T is going to reach someone on T-Mobile? They don't peer cost-neutral, but there is no "national backbone" to which everybody connects. They do connect directly to each other and buy transit, just like ISPs.

Re:Peering (2, Insightful)

sjames (1099) | more than 4 years ago | (#29549747)

Actually, it is. They don't do peering because that would keep them from killing small players with exorbitant termination fees. They're trying to bring the same corrupt model to the internet.

Grammar Nazi... activate! (1)

chupchup (70710) | more than 4 years ago | (#29549031)

It's "flouting," not "flaunting."

Re:Grammar Nazi... activate! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29549147)

Whereby "Grammar Nazi" you mean "Diction Nazi". :o)

AT&T is Jealous (4, Informative)

Alaren (682568) | more than 4 years ago | (#29549059)

A quick Google-brand text-based web search of "traffic pumping" yielded this gem [usatoday.com] from USA Today. Apparently AT&T is jealous, because it hates traffic pumping as much as Google, but can't do anything about it. I think this example actually shows the opposite of what AT&T says it shows...

Does it matter? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29549077)

If Google is doing something wrong too then people will rail against them too. But anybody older than 10 should know that "He did it too!" is not a defense.

Google isn't an ISP (3, Interesting)

TypoNAM (695420) | more than 4 years ago | (#29549079)

What the hell is AT&T smoking? Net Neutrality has nothing to do with phone service at the phone network level. Net Neutrality is all about internet network packet delivery and it is basically an Internet Service Provider issue, not about phone service. Last time I checked Google isn't an ISP (to third parties) while AT&T is for a large chunk of this country and as a major packet routing network (aka backbone provider) between various ISPs. AT&T trying its best to spread FUD as usual as it did in order to get laws passed to ban Municipal ISPs.

Re:Google isn't an ISP (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29552313)

Also this situation involves a lot of circuit switched telephone network problems which have very little to do with the internet packet switched network.

Re:Google isn't an ISP (1)

Kierthos (225954) | more than 4 years ago | (#29552591)

Because AT&T wouldn't be trying to confuse the issue, would they?

Here's a little head's up. Six Republican Senators (at least) are co-sponsoring a bill that would prohibit the FCC from implementing it's newly announced Net Neutrality policy. One of those Senators is Jim DeMint, out of South Carolina.

How much has AT&T put into DeMint's 2010 re-election campaign so far? Why... over $63,000 (in individual donations and PAC contributions). AT&T is, in fact, the second-highest donater of funds to DeMint's 2010 election campaign, according to this lovely summary at Open Secrets [opensecrets.org] . Comcast is also in the top 20.

The other sponsors of the bill, Kailey Bay Hutchison (R-TX), Sam Brownback (R-KS), John Ensign (R-NV), John Thune (R-SD), and David Vitter (R-LA) have also received nice stacks of cash for their 2010 campaigns from AT&T, and no doubt other telcos.

I e-mailed DeMint about a week ago, as I am ostensibly one of his constituents, asking him why he was opposed to Net Neutrality. I did not receive an answer, not even a canned response from his staff. What a shock.

Re:Google isn't an ISP (1)

KahabutDieDrake (1515139) | more than 4 years ago | (#29554039)

The bottom line is that there is little technical difference left between phone and internet systems now. As time goes on the difference gets smaller and smaller. Eventually it won't exist at all. What that means is that neutrality applies, or at the very least that it should apply. That is, if it existed in the first place, but it doesn't yet. AT&T runs the vast majority of your phone traffic through it's internet backbones as IP traffic. Ultimately net neutrality will be required to level the telco field in the near future, as it will be required to keep the internet from becoming the quagmire that the telco system currently is.

Personally, I think the infrastructure should be owned by the government and open to all on equal ground. This would allow the infrastructure to be (theoretically) managed for the good of all, and at a reasonable price, while also allowing reasonable competition among service providers. If everyone started from an equal playing field, the best service would win. Instead of the largest monopoly.

Google is doing what the FCC should (4, Interesting)

Ronald Dumsfeld (723277) | more than 4 years ago | (#29549131)

So, in the honest-to-goodness telephony market, there are a bunch of dodgy rural providers who rip you off when you call a number in their fiefdom. As is poorly explained in the summary and article, they're trying to maximise the number of calls to their numbers - by selling them to sex line and chatroom operators and sharing the connection revenue.

AT&T and a load of other telcos have complained about this as they are hoisted by their own petard (free calls to landlines), and the net neutrality principle. The FCC are being painfully slow in sorting this out and giving the rural providers a good bitchslap.

I don't blame Google for not routing to these numbers, there are clearly defined prefixes for premium rate services and this is just a dodge to get round that. Eventually the loophole will be closed.

Re:Google is doing what the FCC should (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29550173)

The rural telcos have a vastly higher feet of line to paying customer ratio. If they passed that cost onto their customers they probably wouldn't have customers. The only solution is to charge for incoming calls. Also, being a low volume carrier they have to set their rates so that they can survive the occasional extended period of lower than average calls.

Re:Google is doing what the FCC should (1)

adf92343414 (1332481) | more than 4 years ago | (#29553539)

From an article in USA today (http://www.usatoday.com/money/industries/telecom/2008-06-05-traffic-pumping-phone-carriers_N.htm [usatoday.com] ):

Rural phone companies are allowed to charge about 2 cents to 8 cents a minute to connect long-distance and wireless calls to their networks. The fees, up to 100 times higher than rates charged by large local phone companies, offset the rural companies' high costs and low call volumes.

Sorry, but if your business's cost structure is 100x that of similar businesses (i.e., more urban phone companies), you don't deserve to have a business. The article makes clear that a bunch of scumbags got into the scam^Wbusiness to make a quick buck, then got shut down, and now the CLECs are getting in on the act. Google's in the right on this one - screw the CLECs. If the CLECs customers don't like it, find another phone company (the first C in CLEC stands for competitive, after all).

An offline analogy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29549145)

Let's say AT&T is a tollway company. They own roads instead of phone networks.

If AT&T charges someone double to use the tollway if they are coming from or going to Sprint's tollway, that's a violation of neutrality. If AT&T enforces a lower speed limit for motorists coming from or going to Sprint's tollway, that's a violation of neutrality.

Let's say Google is a pizza company. They earn their living from pizza rather than software.

If you live outside of Google's delivery area, you simply aren't in their market. If you want pizza, you'll have to order it from somewhere else. If there isn't another pizza company who delivers where you live, or if they charge more or have worse pizza than Google, that's certainly not Google's fault. There is no violation of neutrality.

Let's say AT&T is a partial owner of Domino's pizza, or has some other business partnership with Domino's pizza.

If as a result of that partnership AT&T refuses to allow Google delivery cars, that's a violation of neutrality. If AT&T charges more to Google delivery cars or offers a discount to Domino's delivery cars, that's a violation of neutrality. If AT&T enforces lower speed limits on Google delivery cars or enforces higher speed limits on Domino's delivery cars, that's a violation of neutrality.

Google isn't a government-backed oligopoly. (4, Interesting)

Timothy Brownawell (627747) | more than 4 years ago | (#29549175)

Funny, I thought the whole "net neutrality" issue was due to connectivity providers abusing the high cost of entry and exclusive agreements with local government to maintain an oligopoly so they can shaft people. Google just runs on top of existing infrastructure.

Re:Google isn't a government-backed oligopoly. (1)

DaMattster (977781) | more than 4 years ago | (#29549327)

I know this is off topic but I like your link to the healthcare rant. couldn't agree more.

What?!? (1)

NoYob (1630681) | more than 4 years ago | (#29549227)

No "Mr. Pot meet Mr. Kettle" comments?!?

I'm disappointed guys!

Re:What?!? (1)

riceboy50 (631755) | more than 4 years ago | (#29549401)

We only like to use it when it actually makes sense. Go figure.

Now that (2, Interesting)

DaMattster (977781) | more than 4 years ago | (#29549311)

is calling the kettle black! Google is pro net-neutrality because they do not want their services blocked or throttled by ISPs. AT&T is so anti net-neutrality that it is not even funny. Seems like AT&T is spewing more crap. This from a network provider that still cannot support MMS. MMS has only been around for the last seven or eight years. Google is technologically light years ahead of AT&T.

Re:Now that (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29550283)

You're about 24 hours late with that one, buddy... They started supporting MMS on the iPhone yesterday (Sept 25). Not that it shouldn't have been there years ago...

So make the interchanges neutral (0, Redundant)

Rix (54095) | more than 4 years ago | (#29549329)

We should mandate that all phone companies allow free and unrestricted access to their networks from all comers over the internet. Phone service isn't anything special, it's just data. There's absolutely no legitimate reason anyone should pay a dime for it if they want to run it over their internet connection.

Google might not be perfect... (2, Funny)

hyades1 (1149581) | more than 4 years ago | (#29549377)

...but AT&T has an unblemished record of douchebaggery going back for decades. They'd sell kiddie porn to your granny if they thought they could get away with it.

Sorry, my fault (1)

supun (613105) | more than 4 years ago | (#29549521)

I used to get a daily call from AT&T pushing their Uverse, DSL, etc. Even though I told them no, they would call back the next day. So my only course was to forward my land line to my Google Voice phone number to block them. Soon after that I received a postcard asking if I was having problem with my land line.

AT&T, really? (0, Offtopic)

Hailth (1479371) | more than 4 years ago | (#29549677)

They broke down and turned their dispute with google into a name calling game? How very disappointing.

You know what's worse? AT&T restricts torrent traffic from most open trackers on their DSL services. I can download anything I want from my favorite private tracker at a constant 300KB/s down and 45KB/s up, thus killing my ratio for the next week without any interference. I can go and get the very same file from an open tracker, any of the nova's or the pirate bay plus some I've never even heard of, and even if it's FREE, UNCOPYRIGHTED content then I still get screwed by AT&T. There can be several hundred more seeders than downloaders, I can be connected to as many peers as possible, and I will still only be able to download at less than 100KB/s. Additionally, my internet connection for the whole house will drop every 5 minutes for about 1 minute like clockwork. Just long enough for nearly every useful active connection service to disconnect you.

This sort of traffic shaping has been going on for about 5 months for me now, it didn't used to be like this for the several years I've been with them. AT&T how about YOU practice net neutrality before pointing fingers like a bitch.

*Additional off-topic ranting below*

For those of you with AT&T's DSL setup, you know how frustrating 2wire routers are when internet connection is lost. The router acts like a virus, it injects itself into your browser to let you know the reason pages aren't loading is because the internet is not functioning. Then, with it's virus-like iron grip on your computer, it lets you know when the internet is okay again and you have to restart your browser in order to continue using the internet. Opening new tabs just leads you to the same notification page. I even have these specific events blocked by Noscript so now it's just a notification via Noscript telling me I told my router to fuck off, but even still I have to restart my browser. Everyone knows how Firefox hates to restart with multiple tabs open on DSL, thanks 2wire for trying to help me by inconveniencing me further.

I use Google Voice to keep my ATT bills low (3, Interesting)

alex_guy_CA (748887) | more than 4 years ago | (#29549685)

My land line and cell phone are both on ATT. To keep bills low, I don't have long distance (or anything else) on my land line, and I make sure never to go over my minutes on my cell plan (Giving credit where credit is due, the rollover minutes [which I did not have with verizon] do help to make this possible. So, if I am at home, I use Google voice to make out going calls via my land line. I can call anywhere in the country for free, and I'm not using my cell minutes. I can see why ATT is mad about GV, and all I can say is "Ha Ha!"

Re:I use Google Voice to keep my ATT bills low (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29551027)

I've been wanting to try out that "landline with GV calls out" method. Is it good?

Re:I use Google Voice to keep my ATT bills low (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 4 years ago | (#29556377)

I've been wanting to try out that "landline with GV calls out" method. Is it good?

It's a small hassle because you have to involve your computer, and you have to add people to your address book to call them. Obviously Google wants to know all your phone numbers. Then again, you're not going to use google to call anyone whose number you wouldn't want to put into an externally hosted address book, so that's not a big flaw. Basically it forces good habits. If you don't like to be forced to put people's number into your address book like an intelligent person when you call them, skip GV+landline :)

P.S. AT&T is getting over $25 for a landline with no long distance these days. Cocks.

By this logic... (1)

superstuntguy (907884) | more than 4 years ago | (#29549909)

AT&T, every time someone accesses my website using you as an ISP, you must pay me 5$. If you don't, you're clearly against net neutrality.

Iowa just put a stop to traffic pumping. (3, Informative)

Animats (122034) | more than 4 years ago | (#29549917)

A few days ago, The Iowa Department of Commerce Utilities Board put a stop to traffic pumping in Iowa. [iowa.gov] It seems that a number of small telcos like "The Farmers and Merchants Mutual Telephone Company of Wayland, Iowa" were overcharging long distance carriers for "terminating" large numbers of long distance calls that were actually shipped elsewhere. (Unlike the Internet, there is inter-company billing within the telephone system.) This service was used mostly for conference bridges and dial-a-porn. Sprint, which offers flat-rate long distance service within the US, was losing money on calls to those numbers. So Sprint blocked them and filed a complaint with the Iowa authorities.

Iowa ruled this week that the telcos were overcharging, had to stop it, and had to give the money back. Sprint also had to stop blocking, which won't be a problem once the rates come down.

The FCC is working on this problem nationally, but the worst offenders just got shut down.

Hey AT&T (1)

bubba318i (1643759) | more than 4 years ago | (#29550451)

How about instead of worrying about google voice, you find a way for me to talk for three minutes straight on my phone without dropping the call. Oh and the mms update yesterday was great! I only takes my three attempts to send a picture!

Its like a dung beetle complaining about shit! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29552477)

When at&t provides FREE service we can allow throttling. Google has no telco infrastructure, only web based services. at&t must have cooked this red herring up in room 641, got bored while funneling all our messages to big brother.

AT&T Openly Flaunting Hypocrisy (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 4 years ago | (#29554013)

'By openly flaunting the call-blocking prohibition that applies to its competitors, Google is acting in a manner inconsistent with the spirit, if not the letter, of the FCC's fourth principle contained in its Internet Policy Statement,' Robert Quinn, AT&T's senior vice president focusing on federal regulation,

The word is "flout", which means [wiktionary.org]

1. To express contempt for the rules by word or action.
2. To scorn.
    "They flouted the conventions and were asked to leave."

Not "flaunt [wiktionary.org] "

1. (transitive) To parade, display with ostentation.
    "She's always flaunting her designer clothes."
2. (intransitive) (archaic or literary) To show off with flashy clothing.

AT&T flaunts its hypocrisy by flouting not only Net Neutrality rules and principles, but also by ignoring the rules of using words correctly. Triple hypocrisy word score! AT&T wins again!

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