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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?


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, 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.

“So far we have not seen a single Android device that does not infringe on our patents." -- Microsoft General Counsel Brad Smith

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