updated 11:50 am EDT, Sat August 1, 2009
FCC probes Google app
AT&T on Saturday issued a brief initial response to Federal Communications Commission letters of inquiry sent to Apple, AT&T and Google on Friday regarding their roles in the rejection of Google Voice-enabled apps. Addressing concerns that it may have denied the apps to exclude a service that provides lower-cost long distance and SMS without using its data network, AT&T spokesman Brad Mays flatly denied any link between AT&T and decisions made by Apple as to which apps are allowed on the App Store, instead putting the responsibility on the iPhone maker. A larger response is said to be forthcoming.
"AT&T does not manage or approve applications for the App Store," Mays said. "We have received the letter and will, of course, respond to it."
The letters asked Apple and AT&T if the carrier pressed Apple into declining the recent Google voice app. The FCC also asked Google to explain Google Voice and detail which apps have been approved or denied in the past, such as Google Earth and Google Mobile App.
AT&T's statement contradicts its own stance on iPhone apps in the past. It was previously responsible for limiting SlingPlayer for iPhone to using Wi-Fi for streaming the feed from a remotely connected Slingbox. It was only released on the App Store after AT&T specifically modified its terms of service to exclude use of SlingPlayer over 3G on iPhones, calling them "personal computers" but not making a similar provision for BlackBerries and other similarly competitive handsets.
The letters are a part of a larger FCC investigation into the access to exclusive phones for rural customers when they aren't serviced by the relevant carriers in their areas.
To date, neither Apple nor Google have issued public responses to the FCC letters.