Google Says They Gotta Block Some Numbers to Keep Google Voice Free

Here's one way for Google to keep people on their side in their tussle with the FCC, egged on by AT&T: Say that the only way to keep Google Voice free is to block those pricey calls to certain numbers.

A brief recap: Google Voice doesn't allow calls to some rural numbers, sexy talk lines or conference call services because the access and termination fees to them are pricey. AT&T has oh-so-kindly asked the FCC to investigate them for not following net neutrality rules (hilarious, since AT&T is quite pissy about the FCC's serious desire to apply them to mobile broadband networks), largely because AT&T got smacked for doing the same thing back in 2007. The FCC these days, headed by Mr. Neutrality Julian Genaschowski, is all about investigating stuff, so they're dutifully asking Google WTF is up with that.

Google says they're not providing a phone service like AT&T, but a free software/web service that's a supplement to your phone, emphasis on the free part:

Google Voice is a free application and we want to keep it that way for all our users — which we could not afford to do if we paid these ludicrously high charges.

Given that Google Voice isn't even a VoIP service and runs on top of your actual phone service—not to mention, is invite-only—they sorta have a point. Plus, um, free is good. [Google Policy Blog via Ars]