Earlier this month, Google had legislators and competitors up in arms because its Google Voice service blocked calls to certain rural areas. The Federal Communications Commission responded to those complaints by asking Google to explain why it was blocking certain markets -- especially since FCC rules require traditional long-distance providers to serve every market, no matter how rural.
Google maintains that it is not subject to the same rules as traditional long-distance carriers because it is an information service provider rather than a telecom company. However, PCMag.com reported Wednesday that Google has developed a partial fix for the block. The story quoted a blog post from Google's telecom and media counsel in Washington, Richard Whitt. He wrote:
We told the FCC today that Google Voice now restricts calls to fewer than 100 specific phone numbers, all of which we have good reason to believe are engaged in traffic-pumping schemes.
Traffic pumping, he explained, occurs when adult chat lines and "free" conference-call services route calls to rural phone numbers, and then the rural networks charge the long distance carriers, and Google, high fees to connect to those networks. Google started restricting calls to those rural markets, Whitt said when, "we noticed an extremely high number of calls were being made to an extremely small number of destinations." Twenty-six percent of Google's monthly connecttion charges came from calls to 10 exchanges.
Taking "a more granular approach" allowed Google to narrow 10 exchanges down to fewer than 100 numbers, PCMag.com's Chloe Albanesius says. Fix notwithstanding, though, Google has joined the call of traditional long-distance carriers for reform of the "carrier compensation system."