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Google Voice Missed Robbery Attempt

Difficult to read online news and not bump into one of those anti-carriers posts regarding the Google Voice vs. AT&T case.

Being involved in Telecom I’m often asked to give my opinion on the matter. After long and boring passionate discussions with friends it became clear no one as a clue of what’s going on. The need for an explanatory post came naturally after a brainstorming session with my friend and partner Pat Phelan.

What is Google Voice?

The service provisions a U.S. phone number, chosen by the user from available numbers in selected area codes, free of charge to each user account. Inbound calls to this number are forwarded to other phone numbers of the subscriber. Outbound calls may be placed to domestic and international destinations from any of a user’s configured telephones, or from a web-based application. Inbound and domestic outbound calls (including calls to Canada) are free of charge, while international calls are billed according to a schedule posted on the Google Voice website. [wikipedia definition].
In simple words, Google Voice is an alternative telecom carrier offering a FREE US number, unlimited free calls within US and Canada and unlimited inbound calls.

Google Voice strong “selling” feature in the Gmail like dashboard offering call logs, SMS history, sync with contact book, visual voicemail.

Ok but how does it work?

Until recently Google Voice was a web application. You needed to go to your web browser in order to place a call. Last summer Google released mobile applications to run on Android, BlackBerry and iPhone.
Simply install the application, pop up the virtual dialer and start making free calls using your mobile carrier a termination point only. Google Voice in an application layer on top of your current service.

iPhone version was removed from App store on july 27, 2009.

If it’s the same as my phone service why would I use Google Voice?

That’s the most interesting question. You still need a host carrier to run Google Voice, minutes you are using on Google Voice are accounted on your plan, so here are benefits:

-       Your Google Voice number is yours for life. No fear to lose your number ever.
-       you can call Canada at no extra cost
-       some carriers plan restrict out-of-state calls. You won’t have this problem with GV.
-       you get advanced voicemail for free (carriers usually charge $5/mo)
-       you get unconditional call forwarding free. You can decide to forward GV calls to your office, country house
-       Advanced call forwarding (simultaneous rings e.g. office, cell and home)
-       Cheap international calls
-       Unlimited free SMS, send and receive
-       Visual Voicemail
-       Call screening, call recording, etc.

Most important is your independence to carrier. You can change operator and never loose a voicemail, or sms or call log. Forget long term commitment to AT&T.

Why did Apple and ATT rejected the iPhone application?

Michael Arrington was prompt to trash Apple thinking they are the bad guys. He even gave his iPhone up and moved to an Android powered device to protest against Cupertino firm [I also dumped iPhone for an HTC Hero but for different motivations].

It was obvious Apple had little to do in the decision to block Google Voice application. It’s a direct order coming from AT&T saying to Google: No, you won’t pimp us!


As much as I hate carrier, their mafia cartels and market domination I disagree with Mike argument that we live in a free world and AT&T should not block Google.

Let’s put it this way – can Mashable post their articles on Techcrunch comments because comments are a backdoor to posting on TechCrunch?

Arrington will be the first one to take those posts out and call for an embargo on Mashable.

Can you publish an ad with a Bing search box on Google sponsored links? I won’t live long enough to see Microsoft trying to do this.

But no you can’t.

You shouldn’t be able to use carriers pipes to steal their traffic, take away their subscribers and build a business just because you can afford to dump prices.

This is the second underlying problem of Google Voice. They are dumping prices. Obviously Google is paying to purchase numbers from CLEC, paying for US and Canada termination, paying for their online management and giving it all for free is unfair trading.

I’m surprised AT&T, Verizon, Sprint didn’t file an antidumping petition under the regulations determined by the United States Department of Commerce, which determines “less than fair value” and the International Trade Commission, which determines “injury”. True dumping is generally used in International Trading. But if Google isn’t international then who is?

I didn’t include TMobile in list of potential plaintiffs against Google as Google and Tmobile are working together on promoting a line of devices, Android OS and other services.

I know the Google Voice team quite well and have lots of respect for Craig Walker co-founder of GrandCentral and Group Product Manager for the Real Time Communications group at Google.

But Google can’t have it both ways. You want to become a Telco carrier then break your piggy bank and invest in infrastructure, build your network, acquire your HLRs and switches, start offering customer support, sign roaming agreements…and play fair competition.

If your offer is good I will be the first customer to sign up.

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This entry was posted on Sunday, September 27th, 2009 at 3:52 am and is filed under Apple, Blackberry, Gmail, google, iPhone, TechCrunch, Technology, Telecom. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

14 comments to “Google Voice Missed Robbery Attempt”

  1. Jdbenichou says:

    Skype has destructed a huge amount of value in the telecom business, capturing paid traffic by offering free PC based call over the net without paying anything to ISP.
    Youtube cost every day millions of $ to ISP to deliver free video streams to their subscribers.
    Services and networks are indeed now separate.
    A carrier should only bill for access to its network, no matter what it carries. Services providers should buy from carriers (Like Gvoice is doing) and sell or give for free their services to consumers. Separation between networks and service is already in place in many european countries in industry like Railroad and Power supply. Affaire à suivre ;-)

  2. ibibo Sawaal says:

    To jdbenichou: “A carrier should only bill for access to its network, no matter what it carries” when did you decide that?
    “Services providers should buy from carriers (Like Gvoice is doing)” can you explain what part of free does GV pay to ATT?

  3. @jdbenichou Agreed on separation of service and networks. Disagree on the method. You cannot broadcast on someone’s else network without his approval. It’s an act of piracy.

  4. Hermann says:

    You have a valid point. Looking at it your way makes sense.
    How can I get a Google Voice invite?

  5. Jdbenichou says:

    #ibibo It’s not a decision. It is an opinion. Gvoice is probably not buying anything from ATT MOSTLY because ATT has no valid business proposition for Gvoice, like MVNO or big discount on large buy. ATT has built its network by investing into limited public ressources like radio frequencies and top spots for BTS. In return it has a monopoly over its subscribers base. And it can impose to Apple not to allow Gvoice on their subscriber’s Iphone. If network access was splitted between packet transportation and end user voice services, Gvoice could buy a reseller access plan from ATT and set up a VOIP package for consumers just like they buy termination cost from Clec or ITSP. It would mean a different business model for Google, as it would cost them more, but their curent BM could eventually allow them to still provide this service at a nominal cost, with ATT making money out of it.
    @Florian Piracy is entering without permission and stealing. It is a subscriber right to download Gvoice if he wants it on his iphone. Many apps are using ATT data network to upload/download datas. Most of them does require ATT prior approval. It is a customer right and a carrier duty. I don’t see any piracy in Gvoice case.

  6. ibibo Sawaal says:

    To jdbenichou according to you Google is entitled to bypass carrier’s ToS because AT&T has no valid proposition for GV? Usage of network is bonded by carriers rules.
    In no way should another service provider operates on a network without accepting ToS of host carrier. Gvoice brings no value to AT&T and offers nothing more to end users of what operator currently offers. The only difference at this stage is the revenue model. Free against Expensive.
    You cannot defend Google’s position on the ground that AT&T business model is wrong.

  7. Eddy Berg says:

    We hate AT&T so much we tend to be on Google’s side. But it’s obvious Google is not doing the right thing. Carriers are spending billions on infrastructure and more billions on customer base acquisition. This cannot exploit by anyone not ever Google.
    Great thinking outside the box Florian.
    note: one last thing – post title is a bit too much.

  8. Gavin says:

    “You shouldn’t be able to use carriers pipes to steal their traffic, take away their subscribers and build a business just because you can afford to dump prices.”

    This statement has nothing to do with the rest of the article. It’s a concept that may or may not be true, but it implies that Google is taking away subscribers somehow.

    While google voice will erode some business like SMS, they are not phone carriers unless you count it’s skype-like application. But then you are using computers, not telephones. So you still need Verizon, ATT, T-Mobile, home phone lines, etc., to use Google Voice like most people are going to use google voice.

    And I laugh at the money loss that poor carriers will have to endure on SMS busines loss. Its widely known that SMS service comes at essentially no extra cost to wireless carriers. Wireless carriers have SMS capacity built in already to towers, switches, etc.. But they certainly pass SMS “costs” to customers. So I have zero problem with Google making this finally unlimited and free.

  9. Andy Abramson posted a reply on his blog. http://andyabramson.blogs.com/voipwatch/2009/09/mask-and-gun-or-just-very-smart.html

    My comment to Andy:

    I’m not against Google. I simply disapprove poor business practice to grab [steal] subscribers. Andy – you know better than anyone that the game is around 3 numbers: 1. churn; 2. ARPU; 3. subscriber acquisition costs.

    Recession and recent losses has implications for the following factors on all carriers:
    1. Higher churn;
    2. Lower ARPU;
    3. Increasing subscriber acquisition costs.

    Google has low Churn, 0 ARPU, 0 acquisition cost and operates on carriers background.
    It’s unfair competition by all means.
    Now saying that AT&T is not a team player- well we all know that. But it doesn’t justify Google’s attitude.

    Google is not the enemy. They have a good opportunity to change the Telecom. Let’s not ruin it.

  10. | Telephones says:

    [...] Google Voice Missed Robbery Attempt [...]

  11. John says:

    What kind of subscribers is Google stealing ? By offering a non-overbearing business model , Google is stealing subscribers ? I think it’s more like freeing subscribers

  12. I agree about freeing subscribers. I don’t agree on the method. You cannot stand in the middle of a BestBuy with a huge neon sign saying “Walmart is cheaper”.

  13. Jodie says:

    275S7E That’s really thinking out of the box. Thanks!

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