NPR logo AT&T Says Apple Pulled The Plug On Google Voice App: But Read The Fine Print


AT&T Says Apple Pulled The Plug On Google Voice App: But Read The Fine Print

AT&T says it wasn't us. The wireless carrier sent a letter to the FCC in response to an inquiry about Apple's decision to keep Google Voice out of its app store. The FCC is looking into whether or not AT&T and Apple are conspiring against competition.

Google Voice is an application that ties all your phone numbers into a single Google phone number. It lets users manage and make calls and send text messages at a cheaper rate than the AT&T phone service connected to the iPhone. It seems to have a VoIP ability and that means is you can make phone calls using AT&T's network without being charged by AT&T.

AT&T is the exclusive carrier of the iPhone.

About three weeks ago, Apple rejected the Google Voice app from its app store. At the time, Apple claimed that it was pulling the app because it duplicated features that were already on the iPhone.

Even if Apple didn't talk to AT&T before it pulled the plug on the Google Voice app, AT&T isn't really blameless here. Just read the letter that AT&T sent to the FCC AT&T says that there is a clause in their contract that requires Apple to pull down applications that use its network for phone services.

It is also interesting to note that on page 8 paragraph 2 of AT&T's letter to the FCC it says it is reviewing its ban on phone applications such as Skype or other VoIP.

Apple says it has not rejected Google Voice but it's just reviewing the situation.

It's an interesting case because it provides fodder to the critics of the current wireless system who say that the carriers have too much control over the devices that use their networks. Tim Wu at Columbia Law School believes that the carriers should not be able to control the applications users put on devices any more than the phone companies can tell you what kind of phone to put on your land line.