Google Voice, the Internet voice application that functions similarly to a phone, blurs the line between the two forms of communication. Is it the same as phone service? Google says no, but a claim from telephone provider AT&T says it is. Now the Federal Communications Commission is on the case.
Last week, the FCC sent a letter to Google, asking them to explain how Google Voice works. The main reason? The FCC is trying to discern whether or not the app should be considered a phone service, subjecting it to more stringent regulations and fees.
This Summer, most of you said you'd signed up for a Google Voice account. (If you still haven't, check out my top five reasons for using Google Voice.) The FCC launched the probe because of Google's policy restricting calls to certain rural locations. Google argues that the restrictions are in place because of the high termination rates charged by carriers in these areas.
To find out what Google's position is on this situation is, just
Their official position on the matter:
Google Voice is a free web application, one intended to supplement and enhance existing phone lines, not replace them. The goal of Google Voice is to provide a useful, unified communications tool.
If they are determined to be a phone company and mandated to make the service available in such areas, Google says the future of the free-of-charge application is in jeopardy.