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FCC asks Apple, AT&T, Google about App Store's rejection of Google Voice

July 31, 2009 |  6:14 pm
Credit: Alexander F. Yuan / Associated Press

The Federal Communications Commission today sent letters to Apple Inc., Google Inc. and AT&T Inc. seeking further information about Apple's refusal this week to allow the Google Voice app -- which enables users to re-route their phone calls through Google -- to be sold through the company's App Store. 

The letters, which asked that the three companies each answer a series of detailed questions about their part in the situation, were sent by James D. Schlichting, the acting chief of the FCC's Wireless Telecommunications Bureau, and suggested that the agency was attempting to determine whether the rejection of Google Voice was a fair move on the iPhone maker's part, and whether AT&T had anything to do with it.

Among the questions to Apple: "Did Apple act alone, or in consultation with AT&T, in deciding to reject the Google Voice application and related applications?"

And to AT&T: "Are there any terms in AT&T’s customer agreements that limit customer usage of certain third-party applications?"

The letters invoked two pending FCC proceedings, one relating to exclusive relationships between handsets manufactures and wireless carriers -- as AT&T and Apple have -- and another regarding consumer ability to freely access a variety of services with their cellphones.

An Apple spokesman declined to comment. Inquires to AT&T were not immediately answered. But a Google spokeswoman said the company would respond to the FCC's questions and supply requested information.

-- David Sarno

Follow my variable-rate stream of tech and culture-related musings at @dsarno