Why AT&T killed Google Voice on the iPhone

An interesting look into the future of wireless telecommunications.  On one side is Google and on the other side are all the old telecos using the same business practices when landlines were invented.

About a month ago, Apple mysteriously rejected a Google app for their new Voice program.  It turned out that it was AT&T that forced Apple’s hands, being that they are the sole provider of service for the iPhone. 

With Google Voice, you have one Google phone number that callers use to reach you, and you pick up whichever phone—office, home or cellular—rings. You can screen calls, listen in before answering, record calls, read transcripts of your voicemails, and do free conference calls. Domestic calls and texting are free, and international calls to Europe are two cents a minute. In other words, a unified voice system, something a real phone company should have offered years ago.

Apple has an exclusive deal with AT&T in the U.S., stirring up rumors that AT&T was the one behind Apple rejecting Google Voice. How could AT&T not object? AT&T clings to the old business of charging for voice calls in minutes. It takes not much more than 10 kilobits per second of data to handle voice. In a world of megabit per-second connections, that’s nothing—hence Google’s proposal to offer voice calls for no cost and heap on features galore.

What this episode really uncovers is that AT&T is dying. AT&T is dragging down the rest of us by overcharging us for voice calls and stifling innovation in a mobile data market critical to the U.S. economy.

I have AT&T for my wireless phone, mostly because I’m too lazy to switch, but also because rates/plans are pretty standard.  These companies want to pretend like we don’t know they are ripping us off, but we do. 

It drives me crazy that a data plan is $30, 200 text messages is another $5 (sending and receiving), etc. etc.  (If you paid per MB of data for texting it would run you close to $5000) In the end you’ve got to spend about $100 a month to have a worthwhile cellphone.  Otherwise you’re better off not really having one at all.

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