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8/31/2010
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Google Voice Problems Limited

Isolated reports of failures do not reflect a widespread collapse of the service, Google says.

The meltdown scenario is a common one among Internet companies. The executive summary goes something like this: Launch a great new service or feature. See usage surge. See the service fail.

That's more or less what TechCrunch founder and editor Michael Arrington says happened with Google Voice following Google's integration of Google Voice with Gmail last week and the opening of Google Voice to the general public in June.

In a post published on Monday, Arrington reports that Google Voice's service in the past week has become "spotty at best, and unusable at times." He also says that based on conversations with multiple sources, Google hasn't invested enough in its core infrastructure to allow Google Voice to scale effectively.

Dozens of posts in the Google Voice help forum echo this view. A post by a Google employee acknowledges that the company has received a number of call quality complaints and asks users to report poor call quality.

The thread had 122 replies at the time this article was written, many of which present complaints similar to Arrington's.

"Things have definitely fallen off a cliff in the past 10 days when it comes to voice quality!" writes a user posting under the name "binxwalker." "This issue needs to fixed asap or [Google Voice] will be abandoned by most users. Most calls that I have made or received via [Google Voice] over the past 10 days have suffered from constant drop outs, garbled audio and one-way audio."

But the discontent is not universal. A significant number of people commenting on Arrington's post report having no trouble with Google Voice.

According to Google, the problem isn't as bad as critics suggest.

"Right now, there are no known widespread issues or outages with Google Voice," a company spokesperson said in an e-mailed statement. "We are looking into reports of people experiencing some trouble with the service, but these are isolated problems and not related to the increase in usage we've seen recently."

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