The Google Voice sage continues; the FCC decides to step in, begins questioning Apple, AT&T and Google
August 1, 2009 | Robert Nelson
In what I think most would consider a surprising move, the FCC has not only decided to look into the removal and rejection of the Google Voice apps, but they have also reacted rather quickly.
Based on the information from the WSJ article, the FCC has sent letters to Google, Apple and AT&T.
“In letters sent late Friday to the two companies and AT&T Inc., the FCC asked why Apple rejected the Google Voice application for the iPhone and removed related applications from its App Store. The letter also seeks information on how AT&T, the exclusive U.S. iPhone carrier, was consulted in the decision, if at all.”
The letter to Apple appears to be looking into why the Google (Google Voice) app was denied entry into the App Store and whether any other VoIP apps have previously been approved. The unknown factor here is whether the FCC realizes that the now-removed Google Voice apps used cellular minutes and were not traditional VoIP apps (similar to Skype).
As for the letter sent to AT&T, this one is looking into whether or not they had any say in the decisions surrounding the Google Voice apps as well as if any other VoIP applications are currently on their network. This one could be important, because a Google Voice app is currently available for the BlackBerry, and we all know AT&T does have more than a few of those available.
Finally, the third letter was sent to Google and is looking into whether Apple explained the rejection and gave them any (good) reasons. In the case of Google, it appears that the FCC is also investigating other apps as well and have asked what other Google apps are in the App Store.
Ultimately, this is most likely not going to get any Google Voice apps back into the App Store, not anytime soon at least, but on the flip side it will hopefully result in some better approval and denial practices in terms of the App Store. Sadly though, it has come at the cost of a few good apps.
As of now, the three letters have to be responded to on or before August 21, however it is unlikely that we (as regular folks) will get much information (at least initially) because all companies have the option to request it be confidential and something tells me that the Apple and AT&T letters will be.
Additionally, if you head on over to TechCrunch, you can read all of the three letters in their entirety.