Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity
Posted at 2:01 PM ET, 01/25/2011

Google Voice wireless-number porting now (really) available

By Rob Pegoraro

The can-your-wireless-carrier option that made a tantalizing appearance last week is now a reality: You can move an existing mobile number to Google Voice.

google_voice_logo.png

A blog post from Google earlier Tuesday announced the change and noted that it costs $20 and should take about 24 hours. But it glossed over one issue: If you're still in a wireless contract, you'll probably have to eat an early termination fee. And after 90 days, you'll also lose whatever Google Voice number you'd set up before -- for now, this option is reserved for people who already have Voice accounts.

Why would you want to bother, when you can already move your number to any new wireless carrier pretty much at will? The major benefit of Google Voice is vastly smarter call-management options, all easily changed through a simple Web interface.

For example, you can have your number forwarded to other numbers of your choice or dumped directly to voicemail, depending on the date and time and who's calling. Google Voice's own, Web-accessible voicemail, with its automatic (and sometimes unintentionally hilarious) transcription, makes even the iPhone's visual-voicemail feature look like a last-decade product. Google's international calling rates usually run only a few pennies a minute, far less than the average carrier's. And you can move a Google Voice number from one phone to another with quick change of settings at its site.

For more details, see last week's explanation by Lifehacker's Kevin Purdy, a certified Google Voice convert. Or read the gleeful rant posted by TechCrunch's MG Siegler last week, when he jumped on this option in its earlier appearance to fire his wireless carrier: "I was able to cancel my AT&T service tonight -- without having to talk to a soul at AT&T."

(3:44 p.m. Search Engine Land's Danny Sullivan got Google to port his mobile number to Google Voice six months ago, when it required a lot more work by the company, and just posted a writeup of his experiences since then that reveals some important differences in Google Voice's usability on an iPhone and an Android phone.)

Want downsides to using Google Voice? It puts yet another part of your life inside Google's orbit (although this service, unlike most of Google's freebies, is not subsidized by advertising; it's set up to cover its costs through international-calling charges). Google itself says the service should not be used for 911 calls. And should a Googlepocalypse occur that takes the service offline, you may feel particularly helpless without your phone number.

This is a big step for a service that Google only opened to the public last June.

But it's not complete: You still can't move over a landline number. And I can't help thinking that landline numbers -- which many of us still have, and which many of our friends and relatives have long since burned into their speed-dial lists -- would be an excellent candidate to move to a cloud-based service like Google Voice that could send those calls to the phone of our choice.

Have you moved a mobile number to Google Voice, are you thinking about it or have you decided against it? Share your experience or your concerns in the comments. And let me know if you'd flip a land number to Google Voice if you had the chance.

5:54 p.m. Added one detail about moving from an existing GV number to a ported-in mobile number.

By Rob Pegoraro  | January 25, 2011; 2:01 PM ET
Categories:  Mobile, Telecom  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: More Apple chatter: Will consumers be able to pay by iPhone and iPad?
Next: Mark Zuckerberg's Facebook Fan Page hacked

Comments

I keep hearing about the call management features, but cannot find them on the GV website. Still, I find GV to be very useful, especially the transcribed messages even if the text is often a bit "off". I have learned to interpret most things, but once in a while there is something that makes me go 'huh?'

Posted by: AlligatorArms | January 26, 2011 10:08 AM | Report abuse

A recent search to learn about temporary cell phone use in Chile yielded a tantalizing post. It said they make free Chilean cell phone calls to the U.S. and Canada from Chile via Google Voice. No details were given about how that is done, and I have found none. Can anyone give details? I would be glad to find how to do it even with a Google-sized charge.

Unfortunately my travel computer uses Linux which Google Voice does not support [yet?]. Will have to take a heavier one. My use google voice has been limited, but it is great.

Posted by: Chrysoberyl | January 26, 2011 1:49 PM | Report abuse

You're not supposed to be able to use Google Voice outside the States. Can't explain that Chilean business. Its either not true of Google is cooperating, because Google has to be able to port calls to a local phone whereever it ports calls. That means Google has to maintain lines that can connect with a country's phone system to work. I discovered you can text from Mexico with GV though, and probably many other countries as well. I put a magic jack in my string of phones while carrying GV with me in Nov, 2009. The hotel I was in used an Argentine IP which did not block Magic Jack. I got GV calls made in the states on the Magic Jack. I was also able to call out directly on the MJ. When I came back to the same hotel in 2010, the hotel had switched to an IP that blocked Magic Jack but not Skype. I wrote the hotel and told them I wouldn't be coming back unless they dumped the Mexican phone company IP that was blocking MJ. Magic Jack doesn't approve of its use with GV. They won't allow you to use touch tones from any phone's dial pad to confirm the GV robocall confirmation call. No problem: simply hold another tone phone dialer next to the MJ phone when the robocall comes in, and tap the other tone dialer in close to the MJ phone voice end, and you WILL be confirmed.

Posted by: miker3 | January 26, 2011 2:47 PM | Report abuse

You're not supposed to be able to use Google Voice outside the States. Can't explain that Chilean business. Its either not true of Google is cooperating, because Google has to be able to port calls to a local phone whereever it ports calls. That means Google has to maintain lines that can connect with a country's phone system to work. I discovered you can text from Mexico with GV though, and probably many other countries as well. I put a magic jack in my string of phones while carrying GV with me in Nov, 2009. The hotel I was in used an Argentine IP which did not block Magic Jack. I got GV calls made in the states on the Magic Jack. I was also able to call out directly on the MJ. When I came back to the same hotel in 2010, the hotel had switched to an IP that blocked Magic Jack but not Skype. I wrote the hotel and told them I wouldn't be coming back unless they dumped the Mexican phone company IP that was blocking MJ. Magic Jack doesn't approve of its use with GV. They won't allow you to use touch tones from any phone's dial pad to confirm the GV robocall confirmation call. No problem: simply hold another tone phone dialer next to the MJ phone when the robocall comes in, and tap the other tone dialer in close to the MJ phone voice end, and you WILL be confirmed.

Posted by: miker3 | January 26, 2011 4:15 PM | Report abuse

I will not port my number(s) to Google Voice. One of the few remaining joys in life is leaving behind the junk callers and annoying people who call my existing number.

When I canceled my landline and switched to G.V. several months ago, while I felt like a fish out of water for a while, I certainly am a lot calmer without the unwanted intrusions. I can manage my calls to suit my needs. I can give out the new number with discretion. With an Android phone I can originate calls that appear to be coming from Google Voice so return calls get the same treatment. It's ideal. Life is good.

Posted by: BoteMan | January 26, 2011 6:12 PM | Report abuse

I use Google Voice for my business but I should have tested it a while before ordering 1000 business cards with the number on it. The service isn't totally reliable. I've got my number forwarding to two cell phones, but a few times, I've gotten email notifications that I'd missed a call, or even a voice mail, that never rang on either cell phone.

Posted by: timflowers | January 28, 2011 2:14 PM | Report abuse

Post a Comment

We encourage users to analyze, comment on and even challenge washingtonpost.com's articles, blogs, reviews and multimedia features.

User reviews and comments that include profanity or personal attacks or other inappropriate comments or material will be removed from the site. Additionally, entries that are unsigned or contain "signatures" by someone other than the actual author will be removed. Finally, we will take steps to block users who violate any of our posting standards, terms of use or privacy policies or any other policies governing this site. Please review the full rules governing commentaries and discussions.




characters remaining

 
 
RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2011 The Washington Post Company