Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Our response to the FCC on Google Voice

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. 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.

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.

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.


Chris Witteman said...

You write "Commission needs to repair our nation's broken carrier compensation system."

Amen to that. Question: can Google publish a link here to its clearest, most comprehensive statement (FCC comments, whatever) as to what a reasonable intercarrier compensation scheme would look like?

Thank you,

Chris Witteman

David said...

Go Google! I've often wondered why it is that the PSTN is so superior and access to it so sacrosanct that PSTN carriers feel they may gouge any other would-be provider that wants to connect to its network and customers. Frankly, the PSTN industry risks marginalizing itself, when it becomes just one more off ramp (with limited functionality) on the IP network of networks. Just because they had the lion's share of the customers and minutes (and revenue) yesterday, does not mean they will have all that tomorrow. Perhaps some day PSTN carriers would be willing to pay the IP community for access to its ever-expanding member base. If so, perhaps all providers could freely negotiate interconnection in a peering-like relationship, without one party being able to wield unfair bargaining power simply because it controls most of the users. Some day, when we have the bigger or more desirable sandbox, I think that all providers will have to end the practice of exacting unfair access rates to allow the less powerful to reach potential customers. Remember the Golden Rule?

NO said...

So why this Gizmo conference number (605) 475-8515 still being blocked?
Is it considered as a "traffic pumping"?

macbeach said...

I'd say this sounds like a little bit of hoist by your own Network Neutrality petard.

Congratulations. There will no doubt be more.

Craig said...

Hey, I really appreciate it, you guys are doing the right thing.


Peter A. Stinson said...

We're going to find that these pumpers will adapt quickly, much like the professionals of spam. It's likely to be whack-a-mole for what seems like eons...

Killa Kev said...

The problem here is that Google is still blocking consumer access to an exchange that the FCC has ruled ALL consumers have a right to access.

I guess Google's motto is "Do no evil... unless it costs us money."

Blocking consumer access is not the right thing to do. The right thing to do is to gather arms with the other companies who also have this problem and mount both a legal campaign to end this terror by rural exchanges, and mount a public awareness campaign so that citizens demand better service.