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Print 21 comment(s) - last by Hare.. on Oct 31 at 10:17 AM

Google paints picture of abusive scammers sabotaging its service with pricey connections

Google Voice is an intriguing service from the internet giant that allows free text messaging, free domestic calling (including to Canada), and reduced international calling rates.  The service hasn't been embraced by all handset makers, however.  Apple quickly rejected a Google Voice app for the iPhone, prompting a FCC inquiry.

AT&T has come forth and accused Google of everything from being a monopoly to doctoring the media.  The most pertinent accusations to the Google Voice conflict are AT&T's claims that Google is breaking the law by blocking numbers to its service.

Google already said that it isn't breaking the law as the service is free and thus is not subject to the same restrictions as traditional telecoms.  Now it's Washington Telecom and Media Counsel, Richard Whitt, has posted a blog sharing Google's perspective in greater detail.

The post describes, "Earlier this year, we noticed an extremely high number of calls were being made to an extremely small number of destinations. In fact, the top 10 telephone prefixes -- the area code plus the first three digits of a seven digit number, e.g., 555-555-XXXX -- generated more than 160 times the expected traffic volumes, and accounted for a whopping 26 percent of our monthly connection costs."

Google claims that these numbers were mostly adult chat and "free" conference call lines, with high associated costs.  In response to the criticism, Google say it has been trying to block calls on a "more granular level".  It says it now only blocks about 100 numbers, which it is confident are part of traffic-pumping schemes.

Instead of facing criticism, Google feels it deserves praise for highlighting a flawed system.  It says that the higher costs of calls on traditional phone plans, and the existence of traffic pumping schemes point to a broken system.  Writes Mr. Whitt, "We still believe the Commission needs to repair our nation's broken carrier compensation system."



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it's free right?
By Suntan on 10/29/2009 1:25:01 PM , Rating: 5
Ummmm… If you don’t like the service they are offering, ask them for your money back. Oh wait…

Seriously, it’s a free service. If you don’t like that they block a call, stop using it. It’s not like they can hide any calls that they block you from making, so if you ever get your dirty calls blocked (sinner) then stop using the service.

Or is it that people want it to be free *and* all encompassing?

-Suntan




RE: it's free right?
By Screwballl on 10/29/2009 2:34:25 PM , Rating: 3
agreed... people want it all and want it now, and want it how they decide, not how the company feels would be most profitable. In this case the blocked numbers were not worth allowing through to begin with.

You can bet your ass that if I was running a large business and people told me how to run my free services, I would stop offering that free service (or find a way to block the complainers and abusers).

Since this is a free online/internet based service, and not an FCC controlled telecommunications (phone) company, they are free to block whoever they want.


RE: it's free right?
By kattanna on 10/29/2009 3:24:37 PM , Rating: 4
maybe im missing it, but the only one complaining is AT&T about unfair competition.

and for ATT to be complaining about others service is down right humorous.


RE: it's free right?
By invidious on 10/29/2009 3:56:31 PM , Rating: 5
This has nothing to do with users not liking that certain numbers are blocked. Its about service providers not liking that google is offering a free alternative. As a result they are persuing any means possible to shut it down.

No one is complaining about google voice except other telecoms. I can see how you might not realize that from this article alone, but if you have been following the issue you know would know that this is an ATT vs google thing, not customers vs google.


RE: it's free right?
By F41TH00 on 10/29/2009 6:02:13 PM , Rating: 2
Since when that a free service requires FCC involvement? For good sake, Google charges nothing on this service. AT&T just lame to take a free service to FCC since AT&T charge for the services?

Google has a great idea to make this service free. AT&T, maybe you can pay us to use this service to compete with Google... lawl.

"Furthermore, AT&T accuses Google of practicing broad-scale manipulation of the media. It says that Google blocked political advertisements from Senator Susan Collins, due to her criticism of Moveon.org, a Google net neutrality partner."

Didn't AT&T do the same with the American Idol voting? I bet AT&T has done its dirty work too, so why complain so much?

AT&T, you're a %#%#$%#$% company


RE: it's free right?
By itbj2 on 10/29/2009 8:04:54 PM , Rating: 2
I wonder what google will do if ATT prevents people from getting to google altogether. I bet google will be crying bloody murder. Then you guys will say oh well you don't have to use ATT you can just get an other service.

The point is that ATT makes its money off of calls. Why would anybody in their right mind get 100 dollar plan if they can just get the lowest plan and then add unlimited internet access and use google voice to make phone calls. ATT will have a much harder time staying in business in that scenario.

Now it is possible that you want to see ATT go out of business with every other cellular service but then who will you use to connect to google?


RE: it's free right?
By jimbojimbo on 10/30/2009 1:16:53 PM , Rating: 2
Dummy. You have no idea how things work yet you rant on. You cannot make VoIP phone calls with Google Voice with an AT&T phone (unless you sign up for say Gizmo5 and have a SIP app which isnt' available in non-jailbroken iPhones). If you use GV to make or receive calls you're still using up your minutes.


What'd they expect?
By Shig on 10/29/2009 1:22:42 PM , Rating: 3
Google voice is the telemarketers paradise. You can route the numbers from anywhere in the world...




RE: What'd they expect?
By amanojaku on 10/29/2009 1:53:24 PM , Rating: 2
Caller ID is the phone owner's paradies. I can ignore calls I don't recognize...


RE: What'd they expect?
By DaveLessnau on 10/29/2009 2:44:40 PM , Rating: 2
Caller ID would be even more of a paradise if the phone companies would let me block calls to my phone if they "originate" from that phone (darn scammers). Or, if I could block calls that don't provide their caller ID number.


RE: What'd they expect?
By jackedupandgoodtogo on 10/29/2009 7:34:56 PM , Rating: 2
Ooma blocks calls "originating" from your phone number and it lets you block private id calls. Best of all, it's a free nationwide calling service (you have to buy their Voip hardware, though).


RE: What'd they expect?
By Rumpus on 10/29/2009 9:53:52 PM , Rating: 2
AT&T offers Anonymous Call Blocking, that kills most 'private' calls. CallerID info is always suspect now due to the ease in which it can be spoofed.


RE: What'd they expect?
By Hare on 10/31/2009 10:17:07 AM , Rating: 2
If you have a smartphone there are plenty of blacklist/whitelist apps for that. At least I've tried one one my Nokia device.


By grath on 10/29/2009 9:51:29 PM , Rating: 3
It really pains me to play devils advocate against Google (and even moreso to support AT&Ts side), but these networks dont just materialize out of thin air.

Tt takes millions of man-hours and billions of dollars to deploy and maintain the networks we take for granted, and we take every opportunity to loudly criticize their coverage, reliability, and performance. We are anrgy that the current generation sucks, and are are forever impatient for the next generation, that we will immediately start complaining about when it deploys.

And now we intend to circumvent the revenue generator that funds the network infrastructure. On a massive scale. Its harder to blame human nature for wanting to save a buck and "get one over on The Man" than it is to blame the tool that enables it. Google Voice by its very nature makes itself a legitimate target.

A few decades ago another tool called a Blue Box was produced to make free calls over a phone network. I seem to recall a story about Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, and Captain Crunch themselves getting caught by police while using a Blue Box on a pay phone. Using such a tool is considered stealing phone service, how can Google Voice really be considered to be any different?

Just because we have formed this mental disconnect between voice and data rates doesnt make them not both data. The carriers DO US A FAVOR by making that distinction and offering low priced unlimited data plans on the assumption that we will not abuse it like this. The alternative is to call a spade a spade and just include voice and text/MMS as data. Our plans will basically be in quantities of megabytes instead of minutes, or just straight unlimited everything.

Is that really what we want to see happen? This is an undeniable threat to the carriers, and they have no recourse but to go to the FCC. That is what the FCC is for. Despite the fact that Google Voice is free, it goes through a service that is not free, and it is an enabler.

Google Im sure is under no delusions about what theyre doing. I think that no matter how this plays out, it has served to further establish Google as a player and strengthened their foothold in the industry. Compromises might have to be made on both sides, but Google Voice will survive as a product even if it ultimately is not entirely free.




By eldakka on 10/30/2009 1:00:29 AM , Rating: 1
quote:
A few decades ago another tool called a Blue Box was produced to make free calls over a phone network. I seem to recall a story about Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, and Captain Crunch themselves getting caught by police while using a Blue Box on a pay phone. Using such a tool is considered stealing phone service, how can Google Voice really be considered to be any different?


Because the blue box enabled you to make telephone calls without paying for them.

Google Voice does not do the same thing.

When you use google voice, you are not really making a telephone call. You are using your data connection to the internet to send data. You have to pay for that connection, that data. You are not making a telephone call for free, as you are not making a telephone call. It is no different than making a recording of a speech in digital format, then copying that file (FTP, torrent, attaching to an email, etc) and sending it to someone else for them to play back.

quote:
The alternative is to call a spade a spade and just include voice and text/MMS as data. Our plans will basically be in quantities of megabytes instead of minutes, or just straight unlimited everything.


As they should be.


By cdwilliams1 on 10/30/2009 11:42:39 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
When you use google voice, you are not really making a telephone call. You are using your data connection to the internet to send data. You have to pay for that connection, that data. You are not making a telephone call for free, as you are not making a telephone call. It is no different than making a recording of a speech in digital format, then copying that file (FTP, torrent, attaching to an email, etc) and sending it to someone else for them to play back.


Well, that's the thing though. What you're describing *is* a telephone call - or - it would be if Google voice didn't exist. The telecoms profit heavily off long distance phone calls and business lines in particular (but not much at all on residential lines). What Google voice is doing is killing the cash cow.

This cash cow heavily subsidizies your internet connection. If the Google were to kill the cash cow of long distance and business telephone lines the telecoms will certainly raise rates on your internet pipe or introduce throttling, or usage caps, or metered service to make up the difference.

I hate to play devil's advocate as I despise most telecoms but I can see why they have a beef. Google is killing off one of their most profitable areas, AND they are using the carriers own infrastructure to make it happen.


By jimbojimbo on 10/30/2009 1:24:06 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
When you use google voice, you are not really making a telephone call. You are using your data connection to the internet to send data
WRONG!! Just wait until you get your Google Voice invitation and try it out for a while before you post more about how you think it works.


By droplets on 10/30/2009 5:02:39 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
The carriers DO US A FAVOR by making that distinction and offering low priced unlimited data plans on the assumption that we will not abuse it like this.


I can afford $73.99 a month, but I wouldn't call that cheap, even for 'unlimited' data. They advertise plans as "unlimited data", or "unlimited everything", etc. So can you explain how they are doing us a favor? And even so, they have all the fine print they need in that contract I signed to terminate my service if I use more data than they can afford.

RE: Infrastructure: Outside my house there's a cable line and a voice line, but there's no reason I need both. There are lots of reasons, historically, that have led to this inefficiency, but the one I'm highlighting is larger corporations' desire and tendency to be the data services provider and the content distributor. This is what has led us to shabby $2.99 ringtones, "SprintTV" etc.

It appears the open standards of internet-based protocols are creeping slowly, though.

Most people that read this article aren't going to be upset with Google's choice, because they seem to recognize profiteering habits, and really appear to be breaking them through innovation and generous prices (ie free).


AT&T is soulless...
By deputc26 on 10/29/2009 3:21:39 PM , Rating: 3
...and Google isn't. Despite a recent surge in Google-paranoia Google is following the strategy of producing what people want as the primary objective and making a dollar off it as the secondary objective. As many business execs and textbooks have noted. This order of priorities actually results in a *more* profitable company than being all tight and controlling and paranoid of competition (assuming it's done right, obviously a company could still fail with that strat).

So AT&T keep crunching numbers and trying to wring every possible cent from your customers, we'll see how it works.




By toohightocomply on 10/30/2009 8:16:41 AM , Rating: 2
Lets all sit down for some Google kool-aid! It blows my mind how many people just accept anything Google does without questioning.. willfully ignorant? Seriously? Any company that has the motto "Don't be evil." and when asked directly by a judge "Does privacy still exist?" Google flatly replied "No."

Oh they are "Carbon Neutral"? When their new data center in South Carolina was first planned they forced the local goverment into multi-level binding contracts that forbid the release of Google's energy usage.

Free? Nothing is free. I love telling people how Google for example archives every word in their Gmail and Search History to be targets of paid advertisements!

Noone questions the abuse to come by using these new VoIP services and the privacy concerns.. Look at China, where Google even helps block anything "critical" of that regime.

In a world where the media is bought and paid for by the crooks in the goverment. I bet most people don't even realize that the Federal Reserve is about as "Federal" as Federal Express! I bet they are the same people who gave Bush and now Obama "The benefit of the doubt". Lets all trust politicians! Google can't do any wrong! I love my Android! I am free!!




By jimbojimbo on 10/30/2009 1:22:28 PM , Rating: 2
I've read so many posts from people that supposedly know how it works but I can tell obviously that they're still on the waiting list just wishing for that invite.

When you make a call with Google Voice, it DOES NOT use your internet or data connection for the transmissions. It calls an actual phone number that you entered at the Google Voice site, then when you pick up it calls the other number. Phone call established and minutes used.

The Blackberry's Google Voice will call your phone and then call the target number then connect.
The iPhone Google Voice app will have your phone call Google Voice at which point GV then calls your target then connects.

The only way to get Google Voice to use the internet or data plan is to sign up for a SIP service and then use a SIP app or device to answer calls from Google Voice.

Stop posting crap unless you know what you're talking about!!




"Nowadays, security guys break the Mac every single day. Every single day, they come out with a total exploit, your machine can be taken over totally. I dare anybody to do that once a month on the Windows machine." -- Bill Gates














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