Apple 2.0

Covering the business that Steve Jobs built

AT&T to Google: Your trumpet stinks

September 26, 2009: 6:35 AM ET

Stinky trumpetI'm glad the net neutrality dispute that broke out this week between AT&T (T) and Google (GOOG) has nothing to do with Apple (AAPL).

The two companies' arguments are so cynically self-serving and the common carrier issues they have locked horns over so thorny and impenetrable that I don't know where to start. (If you want to pursue it, the New York Times' Saul Hansell does a good job laying the groundwork in his latest Bits column.)

But there's one thing in AT&T's letter to the Federal Communications Commission that deserves comment, and it has nothing to do with intercarrier compensation, call termination fees or pornographic chat lines. It concerns the English language.

In his carefully footnoted letter to Sharon Gillett, chief of the FCC's wireline competition bureau (with copies to the four FCC commissioners and chairman Julius Genachowski), AT&T senior vice president Robert W. Quinn Jr. refers to Google as

"one of the most noisome trumpeters of so-called 'net-neutrality' regulation."

I can just hear the screams of anguish from high school vocabulary teachers all across the country.

Like them, I'm delighted that Bobby Quinn remembers that the word "noisome" exists. But I can't believe he made the classic rookie mistake about its usage.

Noisome, from the late Middle English "noy" (short for annoy) means having an extremely disagreeable smell.

It has nothing to do with noise, trumpets or, for that matter, net neutrality.

See here for a copy of AT&T's letter and here for Google's response.

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Philip Elmer-Dewitt
Philip Elmer-DeWitt
Editor, Apple 2.0, Fortune

Philip Elmer-DeWitt has been following Apple since 1982, first for Time Magazine, and now on the Web for Fortune.com.

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