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Google Voice Now Blocks Fewer Numbers

Google Inc. (GOOG) told the FCC on Wednesday it is blocking fewer of its Google Voice calls to rural areas and called on commissioners to fix the intercarrier compensation regime, which lets rural carriers reap big revenue when connecting high-traffic calls on their networks.

Google is under regulatory scrutiny after AT&T Inc. complained the Internet giant doesn’t connect certain of its free VoIP calls because it doesn’t want to pay the required costs, while AT&T must pay the same fees.

In response to a subsequent FCC query, Google said it’s true it doesn’t want to pay for “traffic pumping,” which it called a scheme that points to “the pressing need” for intercarrier compensation reform.

“We told the FCC … that Google Voice now restricts calls to fewer than 100 specific phone numbers, all of which we have good reason to believe are engaged in traffic pumping schemes,” telecom and media counsel Richard Whitt wrote in Google’s public policy blog on Wednesday.

Google also said its engineers have found a way to cut the amount of phone numbers affected by its call blocking to less than 100.

AT&T said a few weeks ago that Google is violating its own net-neutrality principles by blocking some of its Google Voice calls, and that the service ought to be considered a telecom service and therefore subject to more regulation. AT&T can’t pick and choose which calls to block, the incumbent has argued, so why should Google?

Google says because Google Voice is free, runs over the Web and available to only a select number of users, arcane wireline rules do not apply.


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