CU Responds to Google Voice Rejection Explanations

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 24, 2009

Washington DC—In response to letters from AT&T and Apple to the FCC on why the companies are blocking the use of Google Voice on the iPhone, Joel Kelsey, Policy Analyst for Consumers Union, issued the following statement:

“This is about more than just the iPhone.  This is about the future of wireless services.  When consumers can’t use innovative applications that provide a better wireless experience, we all lose.  Whatever market dynamics led to Google Voice being blocked on the iPhone, it’s clear that the federal government must play a role in providing safeguards for innovation and give consumers relief.

Despite the assurances of both Apple and AT&T that there was no carrier involvement in the decision to block Google Voice, these letters highlight AT&T’s veto power over applications that use the network. The U.S. is second to last in the adoption of 3G wireless services compared to other developed countries.  Tech companies should not be allowed to stifle any new service that isn’t a part of a cozy “exclusivity” deal. Blocking innovation in order to protect out-of-date business models is not good for economic growth.

We’re optimistic the FCC will see through ambiguous letters designed to avoid scrutiny, deflect blame and muddle the facts.  If Apple and AT&T eventually allow Google Voice, Skype and other applications on the iPhone as a result of this public scrutiny, that’s a small concession, but what we really need is a strong FCC rule that protects consumers and innovations.”

Media contact: Kristina Edmunson or David Butler, 202-462-6262