Earlier today, technology blog Engadget published a piece on a new service from phone service provider Sprint and search giant Google. Both companies partnered to offer all Spring consumers Google Voice, a free service that enables users to store voicemails, manage multiple phone numbers, screen phone calls among many other features. The article is of interest because as Engadget notes “readers in Puerto Rico remain unable to activate regardless of their account status, and was unable to provide as estimate as to when integration will be available there”.
As it stands, Google Voice is not available to Puerto Rico residents, regardless of whether they are Sprint customers or not. When attempting to sign up for the service users receive an error message indicating that Google Voice does not work with international numbers.
The absurdity of this is evident. Puerto Rico by all aspects, be it legal, practical and economical is considered a US territory. Furthermore, all laws applicable in the continental United States regarding telecommunications apply equally in Puerto Rico. There is a reason why on practically all phone plans be it in the states or in Puerto Rico, calling between the two is free. Yet here we have Google misleadingly categorizing Puerto Rico as a separate country.
This issue has been brought to Google’s attention through its forums many, many, many times. No official response as to whether this will be solved has been issued by the two companies mentioned in the article.
Considering other products, Sprint earns our praise for including Puerto Rico as a domestic jurisdiction within the United States, the correct legal designation. Sprint customers have the same service and features whether they are in one of the states, in Puerto Rico or the other US territories for that matter, who appear to be facing the same issue.
Google on the other hand does not have the same record, as in sign up lists Puerto Rico appears listed as its own country, which as we stated is not correct. Because of the many products this company has we won’t go into detail, as that will be he topic of future posts.
The issue at hand is not the discrimination against Puerto Ricans, but against residents of Puerto Rico, for Google is wrongly categorizing residents of the US territory, whether Puerto Ricans or not, as residents of an international jurisdiction which is simply not true.
Google’s mission is to organize the world‘s information and make it universally accessible and useful. Someone over there should follow this and make note of Puerto Rico’s domestic status within the United States.
At the end of the day, this issue would be avoided altogether if Puerto Rico were a state. This is but one example of how our current status is impairing our choice and power as consumers as companies deliberately discriminate against residents of the islands. For the time being however, it is our interest that our status as residents of a United States territory is recognized. Our thanks to Engadget writer Zach Honig for his mention of the Puerto Rico issue.
To take action on this specific case you can:
- Send a suggestion to the Google Voice team to consider Puerto Rico a domestic jurisdiction of the US
- To do this, scroll to the bottom of the page, and under I have another idea select other and send your suggestion.
- Post one of the several topics addressing the issue
- Contact Google directly
- Google Inc.
1600 Amphitheatre Parkway
Mountain View, CA 94043
Phone: +1 650-253-0000
Fax: +1 650-253-0001
- Google Inc.
This is the first post of this series in which we will tackle the many companies who are following in this unfortunate practice of discriminating against Puerto Rico residents. Stay tuned for our next issue and take action to stop this trend in its tracks. Until next time, when hopefully we won’t be Insular Consumers.