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Summary:

*Google* filed a response to the FCC’s formal inquiry into its voice-calling service today, admitting that it did “restrict calls” to specif…

Google Voice Mobile
photo: Flickr/K. Todd Storch

*Google* filed a response to the FCC’s formal inquiry into its voice-calling service today, admitting that it did “restrict calls” to specific numbers, but arguing that it only did so to combat what it called “high-cost traffic pumping schemes” — essentially sex and party chat lines. Richard Witt, the company’s Washington telecom and media counsel, said Google developed a way to block calls to specific prefixes — or the area code and the first three digits of a number here in the U.S. — because it had seen a high volume of calls going to a select group of numbers.

Google (NSDQ: GOOG) said most of those numbers routed to adult chat and party conference lines — noting that the calls generated more than 160 times the amount of traffic it had planned for, and ate up just over a quarter of its monthly connection costs. In its letter to the FCC arguing for federal regulation of Google Voice, AT&T (NYSE: T) accused Google of blocking calls to rural areas to cut down on expenses.

So Google’s spin, is that it was only blocking numbers to make sure it had enough money left to for all the legitimate Google Voice calls; unfortunately, calls to less-sketchy companies and individuals that had the same prefixes may have been blocked in the process. Witt said the company was working on a more “granular” way to block calls to the sex and party chat lines — but maintained that it actually only restricted calls to less than 100 numbers. He also reaffirmed the company’s pro-net neutrality stance, pushing for the FCC to “repair” the country’s “broken carrier compensation system.”

It’s a not-so-subtle jab at AT&T, as, even though the wireless carrier wasn’t behind Apple’s initial rejection of the Google Voice app for the iPhone, it had blocked other VoIP services like Skype from running on its network up until early this month.

  1. It doesn't matter why they blocked them, they are still making AT&T's point (i.e., AT&T is not ALLOWED to block them and thus Google has an unnatural advantage by not having to comply with the same regs).

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  2. Yup. Great point Ralph.

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  3. Here's my question, though … Were they GVoice "free" calls? As when I place an outgoing call through GVoice, the helpful vobot lady often tells me that I've just dialed a free number.

    If that is the case, then someone (Google) is footing the bill even if it isn't me. In that case, let them decide where they do and do not want to pay for your calls to go. If you don't like it, then call over your normal teleco where you have to pay for the call yourself.

    ATT charges customers for service. If they take my money and then deny me service, then yes there is a problem.

    This seems to be comparing apples and oranges. Apples being ATT from whom I purchase services, and oranges being Google from whom I am a beggar, not a chooser.

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  4. J- Goog almighty is cherry-picking the cheap and easy calls to pay for, and planning on making money from the advertising and/or hurt telcoms by attacking their rev. streams. Classic predatory behavior — bundled I.E. comes to mind. It's the same excuse Goog made with the book scanning.

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