FCC Demands Explanation From Google Over Voice Call Restrictions

A consortium of lawmakers has called upon the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to launch a probe into Google Voice over allegations that the service blocks costly calls to some rural areas.

Reacting to the lawmakers' demands, the FCC has asked the search engine giant to respond by the 28 October on how it routes voice calls, why it blocks calls to some specific phone numbers, and the criteria it has to choose numbers.

In addition, the Commission further asked Google to identify the count of currently existing Google Voice users, and whether the search company plans to offer the service other than through "invitation-only", as per the letter sent to Google by Sharon Gilett, head of the FCC's wireline competition bureau.

Responding to the FCC's charges, Google has claimed that its signature Google Voice service is different from traditional telephone service, simply because it employs a web software tool, and hence it shouldn't be regulated in the same manner.

Back on Wednesday, a group of 20 House lawmakers wrote to the FCC chairman Julius Genachowski looking for investigation into the matter.

The network operator AT&T is unsurprisingly among the most vociferous opponents, alleging that the search giant is creating double standards for net neutrality.

Our Comments

Google must play fair with its competitors, something that some lawmakers, genuinely or not, do not believe Google's Voice service is doing. The problem is that Voice and other VoIP services like Skype are blurring the lines by entering segments that cannot necessarily be legislated using existing legal frameworks.

Related Links

FCC asks Google to explain how, why it blocks calls

(Reuters)

Google Voice in Trouble Over Blocked Rural Calls

(PC World)

FCC to launch inquiry into Google Voice

(San Francisco Chronicle)

FCC To Probe Google Voice

(The Washington Post)

FCC questions Google Voice's expensive call blocker

(Register)