updated 04:50 pm EDT, Fri October 9, 2009
FCC to question Google Voice call policy
The FCC today told Google that it will investigate the company's policies regarding its Google Voice calling service (registration required). Acting on requests by AT&T and politicians, the agency hopes to determine whether or not the company is violating must-connect rules by refusing to complete Google Voice calls made to certain numbers, particularly those in some rural areas as well as to 900 numbers and other lines that have expensive access rates.
AT&T has tried to link its accusations to the net neutrality debate and has argued that, if its mobile service must be subject to net neutrality rules requiring equal access, Google must also be obliged to connect every call regardless of its expense. Congressional representatives have echoed the same viewpoint and added that they're concerned their rural voters might be locked out of using Google Voice.
Google has to date insisted that it's not subject to the connection rule as Google Voice isn't either true VoIP or true phone service. It requires a traditional phone line to start the call but runs over the Internet to complete the connection.
The dispute has no direct connection to the FCC's earlier Google Voice investigation, which centered on Apple's denial of Google Voice for the iPhone's App Store.