“The Federal Communications Commission has sent Google Inc. an inquiry about the company’s Voice Internet-calling service, following calls for an investigation into whether it violates a prohibition on so-called call blocking,” John Letzing reports for MarketWatch.
“In a letter sent to the company Friday, Sharon Gillett, the FCC’s wireline competition bureau chief, notes that reports indicate Google is restricting some calls made through the Voice service to rural areas, thus reducing its operating expenses,” Letzing reports.
“Gillett says that such call blocking is prohibited, and asks Google to answer questions including how it chooses which calls to restrict, and whether its service should be classified as a ‘telecommunications service,'” Letzing reports. “‘We are interested in gathering facts that can provide a more complete understanding of this situation,’ Gillett writes in the letter, adding that Google has until Oct. 28 to respond.”
Letzing reports, “AT&T last month complained to the FCC that Voice is merely a “creatively packaged” traditional telecommunications service, and that Google’s call blocking through Voice violates the principle of network neutrality — a principle championed in the past by both Google and FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski.”
Full article here.
Fawn Johnson reports for Dow Jones Newswires, “AT&T and other carriers tried a similar tactic several years ago. They were rebuked by the FCC, which said common-carrier telephone companies can’t pick and choose the numbers they will patch through and those they will block.”
“Google says its phone management service isn’t subject to the same common carrier telephone rules because it is free and consumers can use it only if they have a traditional telephone line,” Johnson reports.
“The group of lawmakers, including Reps. Steve Buyer, R-Ind., Charlie Melancon, D-La., Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., and John Barrow, D-Ga., said in their letter to the FCC that rural consumers would be most harmed if Google is allowed to ‘evade compliance with important principles of access and competition,'” Johnson reports.
Johnson reports, “The FCC had no official comment on the letter. The agency already is taking a look at Google Voice because it doesn’t appear in the application store for Apple Inc.’s popular iPhone.”
Full article here.