The Federal Communications Commission has launched an inquiry into why Apple Inc. refused to allow Google Inc. to distribute its Google Voice application at its App Store, thereby shutting out iPhone users from easily tapping the much-anticipated Internet phone service.
Apple's decision this week sparked an outcry.
On Friday, the FCC sent letters to Apple, Google and AT&T; Inc. asking that each of the companies answer a series of questions about their part in the decision. They were sent by James D. Schlichting, the acting chief of the FCC's Wireless Telecommunications Bureau.
The agency's questions seemed intended to determine whether the rejection of Google Voice was a fair move, and whether AT&T;, the iPhone's exclusive carrier, had anything to do with it. AT&T; was asked, "Are there any terms in AT&T;'s customer agreements that limit customer usage of certain third-party applications?"
The letters also cited two pending FCC inquiries, one on the exclusive relationships between handset manufacturers and wireless carriers, and another on cellphone users' ability to access a variety of services.
A spokesman for Apple declined to comment, but AT&T; and Google said they would respond to the FCC's requests.