As we've been exploring
, both AT&T and Verizon absolutely despise Google. Why? Because the company represents an Internet future where phone companies are relegated to "dumb pipe" network operators, and more innovative and adaptable companies wind up making a killing in the content and service business. Given their interest in protecting their positions of power created from generations of government-pampered monopoly, both AT&T and Verizon have taken every opportunity to attack Google.
Google's no saint, but most of these baby bell attacks border on incoherent idiocy. For instance, AT&T and Verizon funded mouthpiece Scott Cleland recently attacked Google for using more than their share of bandwidth
, a point that makes no sense even before you realize that Google owns miles of their own fiber and data centers.
Earlier this month, AT&T managed to deflect attention from their own anti-competitive behavior by attacking Google for blocking access
to free phone conference services. Dozens of companies, including AT&T, Level3, Speakeasy, and Magic Jack have blocked these services, which exist thanks to a practice called "traffic pumping." Traffic pumping allows small phone companies to sock bigger operators with huge bills for voice connections.
The practice is disliked by small VoIP and big phone companies alike, but as it stands, only large phone companies are prohibited by law from blocking them. Everybody in the industry (except the smaller operators that profit from the loophole
) agrees that the rules need re-working. The FCC has been considering it since 2007, but the push for reform had apparently gotten lost in the reshuffling at the FCC, which is focused on a new national broadband plan.
Ignoring most of the important context behind traffic pumping or why it's hated, AT&T's lobbyists got lawmakers to support AT&T's own personal investigation into why Google is so mean to rural Americans
. The FCC, despite knowing they're largely to blame for not cracking down on traffic pumping much earlier, have oddly agreed to take part in AT&T's dog and pony show
(I'll assume for appearances sake). AT&T lobbyists kept the pressure on Google this week with an additional letter to the FCC
attacking Google for, among other things, being mean to nuns
In fact, Google is blocking calls to, among others, an ambulance service, church, bank, law firm, automobile dealer, day spa, orchard, health clinic, tax preparation service, community center, eye doctor, tribal community college, school, residential consumers, a convent of Benedictine nuns, and the campaign office of a Member of the U.S. House of Representatives.
AT&T, with generations of anti-competitive behavior in their wake, of course couldn't care less about modern abuses in corporate power. AT&T's reasoning is four fold: they want to further muddy the network neutrality debate by conflating network neutrality with traffic pumping, they want the press to stop covering their anti-competitive behavior and instead pick on Google (it's working
), they want additional regulation imposed on Google, and only as an added bonus, they want some additional attention paid to traffic pumping.
You may find this shocking, but AT&T's primary interest here isn't nuns, fairness, equanimity, or justice. AT&T's interest here is in protecting their position of monopoly power from the natural evolution of the Internet, while protecting SMS, voice and content revenue from those nun-hating trouble makers in Mountain View.