FCC Investigates Apple and AT&T Over Google Voice
The FCC has opened an inquiry into why Apple has refused Google Voice from the App Store and what role AT&T played, according to a Wall Street Journal report.
The WSJ has obtained a copy of the letter sent from the FCC to Apple. A similar letter was sent to AT&T.
Apple recently removed all third party Google Voice applications from the App Store. At this time it was also revealed that the official Google Voice application was denied acceptance into the App Store as well.
You can find the FCC letter to Apple reprinted below.
Catherine A. Novelli, Vice President
Worldwide Government Affairs
901 15th Street, NW, Suite 1000
Washington, DC 20005
RE: Google Voice and related iPhone applications
Dear Ms. Novelli:
Recent press reports indicate that Apple has declined to approve the Google Voice
application for the iPhone and has removed related (and previously approved) third-party applications from the iPhone App Store.1 In light of pending FCC proceedings regarding wireless open access (RM-11361) and handset exclusivity (RM-11497), we are interested in a more complete understanding of this situation.
To that end, please provide answers to the following questions by close of
business on Friday, August 21, 2009.
1. Why did Apple reject the Google Voice application for iPhone and remove related third-party applications from its App Store? In addition to Google Voice, which related third-party applications were removed or have been rejected? Please provide the specific name of each application and the contact information for the developer.
2. Did Apple act alone, or in consultation with AT&T, in deciding to reject the Google Voice application and related applications? If the latter, please describe the communications between Apple and AT&T in connection with the decision to reject Google Voice. Are there any contractual conditions or non-contractual understandings with AT&T that affected Apples decision in this matter?
3. Does AT&T have any role in the approval of iPhone applications generally (or in certain cases)? If so, under what circumstances, and what role does it play? What roles are specified in the contractual provisions between Apple and AT&T (or any non-contractual understandings) regarding the consideration of particular iPhone applications?
4. Please explain any differences between the Google Voice iPhone application and any Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) applications that Apple has approved for the iPhone. Are any of the approved VoIP applications allowed to operate on AT&Ts 3G network?
5. What other applications have been rejected for use on the iPhone and for what reasons? Is there a list of prohibited applications or of categories of applications that is provided to potential vendors/developers? If so, is this posted on the iTunes website or otherwise disclosed to consumers?
6. What are the standards for considering and approving iPhone applications? What is the approval process for such applications (timing, reasons for rejection, appeal process, etc.)? What is the percentage of applications that are rejected? What are the major reasons for rejecting an application?
Request for Confidential Treatment. If Apple requests that any information or documents responsive to this letter be treated in a confidential manner, it shall submit, along with all responsive information and documents, a statement in accordance with section 0.459 of the Commission's rules. 47 C.F.R. § 0.459. Requests for confidential treatment must comply with the requirements of section 0.459, including the standards of specificity mandated by section 0.459(b). Accordingly, blanket requests for confidentiality of a large set of documents are unacceptable. Pursuant to section 0.459(c), the Bureau will not consider requests that do not comply with the requirements of section 0.459.
Thank you in advance for your anticipated cooperation.
James D. Schlichting
Wireless Telecommunications Bureau
Federal Communications Commission