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The Hill reports that the tussle over Google Voice continues. Google Voice gives people the chance to claim one number (from Google); Google then directs phone calls coming to that number to land lines or mobile phones. With Google Voice, you can have one phone number (the one from Google) that will be forwarded to any kind of phone you might have. Trouble is, Google doesn’t serve all phones. In particular, Google has cut out numbers in rural areas served by companies Google believes charge exorbitant access fees.
This has caused a stir in Washington, D.C., and The Hill reports that “(p)ressure is growing on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to come down on tech giant Google for blocking access to certain telephone numbers with its Google Voice service….Google admits that it is blocking some numbers to rural areas with high connection fees, including adult chat lines and some free conference calls.”
The system for assigning rates is complicated. Google says it’s not subject to FCC regulation since it is an Internet-based phone system. The FCC is studying that one. Phone conferencing companies direct calls to rural areas where they can share in the higher fees. (The Hill tells us that the Obama campaign used these conferencing services extensively during the ’08 campaign.) But blanket blocks of regions affect the local rural user along with the conference call providers. We thought this was getting clear up, but it remains a royal mess.