Groups react to Google Voice inquiry

Public Knowledge, meanwhile, thinks the FCC needs to take an even broader look at how Web-powered phone services block calls. The group said it recently learend that another VoIP provider, Speakeasy.com, had reserved the right to block calls to rural areas.

The commission's inquiry is not related to non-discriminatory net neutrality regulations or denying service to rural customers.

"It has to do with the clash between traditional telephone services and new technological realities," said Gigi Sohn, Public Knowledge president. "We urge the Commission to act quickly to resolve these difficult issues."

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In an Oct. 6 letter to Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-HI), FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said the agency would look into the issue of "special access," or the rates smaller local carriers and wireless companies pay to lease access to the major telephone networks. 

And the agency is now expressing concerns about "access stimulation," in which long distance carriers end up paying higher access charges to certain local carriers.

"Today's letter, although over a relatively minor aspect of a relatively minor service, raises an issue of far greater magnitude: the scope of the agency's regulatory authority, and the continued erosion of lines dividing regulated and unregulated services as the Internet ecosystem continues to multiply and divide," Stifel Nicolaus analyst Dave Kaut summed up this evening in an investors note.