*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.