Google Would Never Let Itself Be Called Carrier
When asked whether Call Phones from Gmail changes anything, Whitt says, "Google Voice is a free, software-based Web-messaging platform, and is not intended to replace traditional phone service." Indeed, to sign up for a Google Voice account, users must subscribe to a traditional carrier's landline or mobile phone service. The phone number is the endpoint; not a user's Gmail account.Most analysts agree with this sentiment and, while it is popular and convenient to go after Google as an Internet giant seeking to put too many fingers in too many pies, the FCC has seemed little bothered by the notion of Google as a carrier. Under Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski, the FCC treats Google, which is ever railing about network neutrality, as very much the Internet company. The FCC is trying to get Verizon, Comcast and others to free up their pipes for application data. But suppose the FCC did try to classify Google as a carrier based on its VOIP-based Web services? A source familiar with Google's plans said the company, seeking to protect its advertising fortress, would cut bait on a Web service if it came down to such regulation. Gartner analyst Peggy Schoener agrees, telling eWEEK she doubts Google would get that far. "My gut tells me it would be exceedingly difficult to try and regulate them at this stage of the game, and if they got that close, Google would walk away from the products before it would let it happen," Schoener says. "They're trying a lot of different things to see what works." Google's assault on Skype notwithstanding, Google may be biting off more than it can chew with its VOIP moves, Berlinsky says. "It is rolling out numerous products in its quest to grow, and it remains to be seen if it can devote the attention and energy necessary to make VOIP succeed," she says.
Google argues that these distinctions keep it out of the realm of the carriers, based on the Federal Communications Commission's classification.