Google To FCC: Google Voice Blocks Fewer Than 100 Phone Numbers

Google responded to a query from the FCC about phone numbers it blocks for its Google Voice phone service. Google says it’s now blocking fewer than 100 numbers, likely to be adult chat lines and “free” conferencing services, which charge very high connection fees.

Google explains in a blog post: (Emphasis ours.)

We went to work on this fix because 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 per cent of our monthly connection costs.

To prevent these schemes from exploiting the free nature of Google Voice — making it harder for us to offer this new service to users — we began restricting calls to certain telephone number prefixes. But over the past few weeks, we’ve been looking at ways to do this on a more granular level. 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.

More context from the AP:

WASHINGTON (AP) — Google Inc. says its free messaging and calling service, Google Voice, blocks calls to fewer than 100 phone numbers likely to be adult chat lines and free conference call services.

The company made the disclosure in a letter to the Federal Communications Commission. The FCC opened an inquiry into call blocking by Google Voice earlier this month after AT&T Inc. complained that the service restricts calls to rural communities where local phone companies charge high connection fees.

So-called “common carrier” regulations prevent AT&T and other phone companies from blocking those same calls. But Mountain View, Calif.-based Google says its Voice service should not be subject to common carrier laws because it is a free online application, not a replacement for traditional phone service.

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