Sunday, August 2, 2009

Google Voice, FCC questions Apple and AT&T

The suspense surrounding the Google Voice App rejection by Apple is not yet over. It’s getting more and more interesting. Apparently, FCC has stepped in and has sent letters to AT&T, Apple and Google in this regard. For reference I have added the letters to the end of this post.

Apple has rejected so many applications so far. However, this time, it’s none other then Google apps, which has attracted every major media and blogger’s attention. FCC stepping in is good in so many ways. It brings in lot of transparency and net neutrality would be given thumbs up here. Iam not sure if this means that we would get to the bottom of the issue and know who actually played the spoiler. Nevertheless, we would definitely know some information about what went behind the backdoors to reject Google Voice App

Jeff pulver, the champion of VoIP has his Thoughts penned in the recent article. Here is what he has to Say:

And as to the reasons why Apple/AT&T decided to block access to Google Voice, it is clear to me that despite whatever was said in the trade press, in the end the wireless division at AT&T still has not fully embraced the impact of what it means when “Voice is an Application” and no longer just a service. Or maybe they have and they have decided to do everything in their power to prevent the widespread use of VoIP inside of WiFi hotspots on mobile devices which are under their influence.


Here are the FCC letters sent to Apple, AT&T and Google

To Google:

1.Please provide a description of the proposed Google Voice application for iPhone. What are the key features, and how does it operate (over a voice or data network, etc.)?
2. What explanation was given (if any) for Apple’s rejection of the Google Voice application (and for any other Google applications for iPhone that have been rejected, such as Google Latitude)? Please describe any communications between Google and AT&T or Apple on this topic and a summary of any meetings or discussion.
3. Has Apple approved any Google applications for the Apple App Store? If so, what services do they provide, and, in Google’s opinion, are they similar to any Apple/AT&T-provided applications?
4. Does Google have any other proposed applications pending with Apple, and if so, what services do they provide?
5. Are there other mechanisms by which an iPhone user will be able to access either some or all of the features of Google Voice? If so, please explain how and to what extent iPhone users can utilize Google Voice despite the fact that it is not available through Apple’s App Store.
6. Please provide a description of the standards for considering and approving applications with respect to Google’s Android platform. What is the approval process for such applications (timing, reasons for rejection, appeal process, etc.)? What is the percentage of applications that are rejected? What are the major reasons for rejecting an application?

To AT&T:

1.What role, if any, did AT&T play in Apple’s consideration of the Google Voice and related applications? What role, if any, does AT&T play in consideration of iPhone applications generally? What roles are specified in the contractual provisions between Apple and AT&T (or in any noncontractual understanding between the companies) regarding the consideration of particular iPhone applications?
2. Did Apple consult with AT&T in the process of deciding to reject the Google Voice application? If so, please describe any communications between AT&T and Apple or Google on this topic, including the parties involved and a summary of any meetings or discussions.
3. Please explain AT&T’s understanding of any differences between the Google Voice iPhone application and any Voice over Internet Protocol applications that are currently used on the AT&T network, either via the iPhone or via handsets other than the iPhone.
4. To AT&T’s knowledge, what other applications have been rejected for use on the iPhone? Which of these applications were designed to operate on AT&T’s 3G network? What was AT&T’s role in considering whether such applications would be approved or rejected?
5. Please detail any conditions included in AT&T’s agreements or contracts with Apple for the iPhone related to the certification of applications or any particular application’s ability to use AT&T’s 3G network.
6. Are there any terms in AT&T’s customer agreements that limit customer usage of certain third-party applications? If so, please indicate how consumers are informed of such limitations and whether such limitations are posted on the iTunes website as well. In general, what is AT&T’s role in certifying applications on devices that run over AT&T’s 3G network? What, if any, applications require AT&T’s approval to be added to a device? Are there any differences between AT&T’s treatment of the iPhone and other devices used on its 3G network?
7. Please list the services/applications that AT&T provides for the iPhone, and whether there any similar, competing iPhone applications offered by other providers in Apple’s App Store.
8. Do any devices that operate on AT&T’s network allow use of the Google Voice application? Do any devices that operate on AT&T’s network allow use of other applications that have been rejected for the iPhone?
9. Please explain whether, on AT&T’s network, consumers’ access to and usage of Google Voice is disabled on the iPhone but permitted on other handsets, including Research in Motion’s BlackBerry devices.

To APPLE:

Why did Apple reject the Google Voice application for iPhone and remove related third-party applications from its App Store? In addition to Google Voice, which related third-party applications were removed or have been rejected? Please provide the specific name of each application and the contact information for the developer.
2. Did Apple act alone, or in consultation with AT&T, in deciding to reject the Google Voice application and related applications? If the latter, please describe the communications between Apple and AT&T in connection with the decision to reject Google Voice. Are there any contractual conditions or non-contractual understandings with AT&T that affected Apple’s decision in this matter?
3. Does AT&T have any role in the approval of iPhone applications generally (or in certain cases)? If so, under what circumstances, and what role does it play? What roles are specified in the contractual provisions between Apple and AT&T (or any non-contractual understandings)regarding the consideration of particular iPhone applications?
4. Please explain any differences between the Google Voice iPhone application and any Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) applications that Apple has approved for the iPhone. Are any of the approved VoIP applications allowed to operate on AT&T’s 3G network?
5. What other applications have been rejected for use on the iPhone and for what reasons? Is there a list of prohibited applications or of categories of applications that is provided to potential vendors/developers? If so, is this posted on the iTunes website or otherwise disclosed to consumers?
6. What are the standards for considering and approving iPhone applications? What is the approval process for such applications (timing, reasons for rejection, appeal process, etc.)? What is the percentage of applications that are rejected? What are the major reasons for rejecting an application?

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1 comment:

Tom said...

The big gorilla in the room just may be the patent-free Gray-Hoverman antenna that costs less than $10. With a range up to 100 miles, trouble is definitely on the horizon for telco/cableco monopolies. GoogleVoice, Asterisk as your personal pbx, and open source says goodbye to AT&T. This assumes Google has continued to buy up dark fiber, globally. It's a simple strategy, and unstoppable at this point, I think.