FCC Looks Into Apples Ban on Google Voice

It’s not a formal investigation, but it’s enough to show that Apple Inc. might have taken its rule-with-an-iron-fist approach to the App Store too far last week: The FCC has begun an inquiry on Apple banning the Google Voice application.

Apple caused an uproar in the blogosphere last week by blocking the Google Voice application for the iPhone from the App Store. The Web app offers a VoIP-driven toll bypass function as well as free texting – all of which undermines revenue opportunities for the iPhone’s exclusive carrier, AT&T Inc..

The FCC sent letters late Friday to the three companies in question, asking for details of the decision to block Google Voice, and asking whether AT&T had any part in the conversation.

The FCC “has a mission to foster a competitive wireless marketplace, protect and empower consumers, and promote innovation and investment,” said FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, in a statement inquiring into the Google Voice situation. It is part of a “proactive approach to getting the facts and data necessary to make the best policy decisions,” he added.

Apple and AT&T have declined to comment on the situation. Google said in a statement that it would provide the FCC the information it seeks.

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