Sunday, September 27, 2009

Antitrust as a Tool to Hobble Competitors

Google has a great new tool, Google Voice, which allows you to provide just one phone number to friends, business contacts, etc. that will ring all your numbers simultaneously, your cell, your home, the office. You can control which of your phones will ring for a given person. Just home, just the office. Or just the cellphone. It also provides immediate transcripts of all voicemails to your cellphone.

It's an awesome phone management/time management tool. I use it.

You can always tell when a new product is hot. Competitors will attempt to use government to slow or stop the growth of such a product. Google Voice is hot and really scaring competitors. ATT, for example, has pulled out the antitrust card to stop Google Voice. Amy Schatz at WSJ reports:
AT&T Inc. alleged Friday that Google Inc.'s Google Voice service is improperly preventing consumers from calling certain phone numbers, in violation of federal call-blocking rules.

In a letter to the Federal Communications Commission, the phone giant accused Google of violating rules designed to ensure phone companies connect all calls. AT&T also accused Google of violating "net neutrality" principles, which are designed to ensure consumers can use any legal Internet services they want.

Google Voice is an Internet call-forwarding system that allows consumers to sign up for a free phone number that, when called, simultaneously rings all of a consumer's other phones.

Google acknowledged it restricts outgoing calls to some phone numbers, including adult chat lines and conference-call centers, which charge higher access fees to carriers. Blocking such calls reduces Google's expenses for the service.
Bottom line: Google is providing a service that is FREE. It blocks outgoing numbers that charge high access fees. Since Google is mostly an incoming management tool, you still need a separate phone line/number to make out going calls. If anyone wants to call adult chat lines, conference numbers and other numbers that Google does not allow access to through there "switchboard", they can do so directly. Google isn't trying to stop this, and couldn't. So this is an amazing stretch of already absurd antitrust laws. It's Big Mama calling in the muscle of Big Government to harass a new competitor.

1 comment:

  1. May be a great tool, and to use the government against competitors is reprehensible, but do you really want Google to have transcripts of all of your cell phone voice mails?