Google: 'We Only Block Adult Chat and Free Conference Calls'

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif.—Responding to an FCC inquiry into accusations—made most stridently by AT&T—that it blocks calls to certain numbers, giving it an unfair advantage over its traditional, FCC-bound rivals, Google Voice responded Wednesday that it has found a way to restrict to 100 the number of specific phone numbers it will block, and that adult chat lines are notably among the group still being blocked.

In a Google blog post, Google Telecom and Media Counsel Richard Whitt said, “In our response today to the FCC's inquiry about Google Voice, we announced that our engineers have developed a tailored solution for restricting calls to specific numbers engaged in what some have called high-cost ‘traffic pumping’ schemes, like adult chat and ‘free’ conference call lines.

“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,” he continued. “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.”

The original solution for Google Voice was simply to block calls to all numbers it believed were “exploiting the free nature” of their online service. Over the past few weeks, it said, it has been looking into ways to prevent the abuse “on a more granular level.” The result, as told to the FCC, was to limit blocking to the aforementioned 100 numbers.

“While we've developed a fix to address this problem, the bottom line is that we still believe the Commission needs to repair our nation's broken carrier compensation system. The current system simply does not serve consumers well and these types of schemes point up the pressing need for reform,” Whitt said.