Yesterday, the Federal Communications Commission launched yet another inquiry into the Google Voice service, this time at the behest of a bi-partisan group of congresspersons who questioned Google’s ability to block calls to rural telephone exchanges.
“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,” members of the House of Representatives wrote to the FCC on Wednesday. “Instead, Google maintains it ought to be allowed to block calls to rural telephone exchanges — a position we find ill conceived and unfair to our rural constituents.”
Today, the FCC has sent Google an inquiry asking for clarification on a number of points about Google Voice, which amount to essentially everything about the service. Specifically, the Commission wants to know: how Google Voice calls are routed, whether certain numbers are restricted, the technological methods used to restrict these numbers, and how Google informs users about these restrictions.
Further, it also asks about Google’s pricing scale (“Does Google intend to charge at some point for any of these services?”), the number of invitees using the service, what exactly it means by “invitation only,” and whether it plans to make the service available to the general public.
Google has until October 28 to respond to the inquiry.