Lawmakers Call for FCC Investigation Into Google Voice
Ten lawmakers representing rural districts asked the Federal Communications Commission Thursday for an investigation into Google’s voice calling service, which is blocking some calls to rural areas.
In a Letter to the FCC (pdf) sent last Wednesday to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, the bipartisan group of House lawmakers asked for a formal investigation into whether Google Voice was a traditional telephone service and should be regulated as a phone company for blocking the calls. Google has said its service, which forwards calls, aggregates phone numbers and manages calling services over a Web site, isn't a traditional phone service, known in FCC speak as a common carrier service, and shouldn't be held to the same rules as phone companies like AT&T.
Rep. Steve Buyer (R-Indiana) and Rep. Charlie Melancon (D-La.) were among the lawmakers who sent the letter, saying:
"We understand Google has asserted Google Voice is not a 'traditional' telephone service – despite its use of 10-digit telephone numbers and its ability to connect calls between telephones through a local exchange carrier,” the lawmakers wrote in the letter. "Instead, Google maintains it out to be allowed to block calls to rural telephone exchanges – a position we find ill conceived and unfair to our rural constituents."
The letter follows one sent earlier this month by AT&T, calling for the FCC to look into the Google Voice's blocking of calls. The complaint raised questions about how federal regulators will approach technologies that overlap the legacy telecom world and new Web technologies.
October 8, 2009; 1:15 PM ET
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