Saturday, October 10, 2009

Google good, AT&T and old FCC evil

It's fashionable today to disparage Google, to compare them to the Evil Empires of IBM and Microsoft, to mock the founders for faux idealism.

That's brainless fashion. My personal experience is that Google has been mostly on my side. That's why I serve the rambling House of Google rather than the shaky silver towers of Apple or the wretched slums of Microsoft.

My beef with Google is not with their alleged evil, it's been with their attention deficit disorder, the fundamental flaws of the Cloud, erratic customer abuse and the past two weeks of lousy service.

Imperfect as Google is, it's also right about the Data Freedom Front and right about saving lost books.

They're also in the right when it comes to fighting the phone fraud of "free" conferencing sites. Not that I blame AT&T for calling Google out, but the old (corrupt Bush era?) FCC was wrong about the interconnect scams (emphases and link to the Whitt post are mine) ...
FCC Is Probing Google Voice Service -

.... Richard Whitt, Google's Washington telecom and media counsel, said in a blog post Friday that Google restricts calls to certain local phone numbers because "they charge exorbitant termination rates" and "partner with adult sex chat lines and 'free' conference calling centers to drive high volumes of traffic."

AT&T Inc. has said Google is violating rules designed to ensure that phone companies connect all calls. Earlier this week, a group of lawmakers asked the FCC for an investigation into the matter, saying the practice could hurt rural customers...

...The FCC rebuked AT&T and other carriers several years ago for blocking calls with high-access charges, saying common-carrier telephone companies can't pick and choose which numbers they will patch through and which they will block.
Congress asked the FCC to look into this because they fear "for rural customers".

Bullpoop. They fear the loss of campaign donations and future jobs from parasitic RBOCs now living off interconnect scam leavings.

It's tough for the FCC to stand up to corrupt lawmakers, but this is the Obama era. I'm cautiously optimistic. If Google was accepting donations I'd send 'em money, but for now I'll just write a note of support to my representative. (While I'm at it, I'll ask her to look into the cramming scams and the unblockable receiver-pays SMS scam. Bush/Cheney left the Obama-era FCC with a lot a of poop to shovel.)


Curmudgeon said...

Be careful what you wish for.

The right Google is asking for is not the right to drop phone calls to sleezy scammers. The right Google is asking for is the right to drop calls to services it has arbitrarily judged to be sleezy scammers.

Allowing phone carriers to arbitrarily block calls to/from entities they don't like is a much worse evil than allowing interconnect scammers to conduct what are currently legal businesses.

JGF said...

Knowing just a bit about RBOCs and interconnect fees, but simply by virtue of having a lot of personal entropy, I am fairly confident that:

1. Interconnect fees were a reasonable political compromise when they were created.

2. Since that time regulatory inertia, changing markets and technologies, and ESPECIALLY a complex emergent and self-supporting economic ecology have created a festering swamp. In the economic ecosystem are things we want (phone for grandma), jobs, things we don't like to think about (funds for elections) and money to be stolen for varied pursuits (phone porn, etc).

3. AT&T has probably found ways to make money from the ecosystem, just as they make money from cramming scams (even though that may be almost more trouble than its worth).

Google wants to "drain the swamp". AT&T would probably like to drain the swamp too, but most of all they want to kill Google. So it makes sense to use a minor enemy (RBOC interconnects) as a weapon.

Legislators who live off the system need to preserve it too, unless someone figures out a way to get them an alternative revenue stream.

I'd love to hear an insider either confirm or refute my guesses, but this is almost physics level certainty. It's the way the world works.