Google has responded to FCC questions about Google Voice and restrictions in calling certain regions of the U.S. In doing so, the company also noted the number of Google Voice users: over 1 million and growing.

Of course, Google didn't mean for everyone to see the numbers. Thanks to a formatting error in the PDF version of the letter provided to the FCC, the redacted areas were available to Business wWeek for perusal. The nascent, still invite-only service has 1.419 million users, according to the letter. Of those, 570,000 use it seven days a week.

Although the service is still invite-only, Google recently began giving out 3 invitations per user to give to their friends. I just saw those invitations show up in my Google Voice account (sorry, they're gone already!).

The FCC's questions centered around the fact that Google Voice has taken to blocking calls to certain rural areas of the country. AT&T, which complained, cannot do the same, because of FCC regulations. Certain rural carriers charge phone companies extremely high connection fees to those areas. Google noted, in the un-redacted portion of its letter, that it had experienced an unusually high volume of calls to these numbers and blocked access by its user base to some 100 numbers.

Google argues that Google Voice is not a traditional phone service provider (for one, it's free), it shouldn't be subject to the regulations that require phone companies to connect calls to any number.

Meanwhile, the redacted portion of the document also had some other interesting information: Google hinted that it might go global with Google Voice, saying it has signed contracts with a number of "international service providers for inputs to Google Voice." However, the company added that "none of the contracted services have yet" been launched.

BTW, the document has since been corrected. Additionally, these numbers aren't that big a deal if they are exposed, but it just goes to show you how easy it is for even a corporate giant like Google to make an error that could, in other circumstances, reveal some pretty sensitive information.

This isn't the first time the FCC has looked into Google Voice. Earlier, the FCC began examining the Google Voice application rejection from Apple's App Store (which Apple continues to say hasn't happened). AT&T, Apple, and Google were all questioned on the matter, and have since responded. Critics have complained about the rejection, and it has become the "poster boy" of useful applications seeming rejected, without sufficient reason, from the App Store.

on Monday, November 30, 2009


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