Used to be in order to take advantage of just one feature of Google Voice, voicemail transcription, you had to set your number to forward to your Google number if you don’t pick up or if you’re on the line with someone. But if you wanted to use all the other features of Google Voice, then you’d have to start giving out your Google Voice number. Should you wish to receive calls either on your computer or SIP phone in addition to your cell phone, unless you set your number always to immediately bounce calls to GV (not a good idea), those calls would have to be aimed at your Google Voice number. If you want to receive text messages through Google Voice and scrap your SMS package you’d have to make sure your friends used your new number.
It takes a long time to tell a big batch of people to reach you on a new number, possibly one with a different area code, and it’s kind of a nuisance to get everyone you communicate with to call you on a different number and for a long time many people had wished there were a way to just port their own phone number to Google in order to go crazy with Google Voice in all of its glory. And really, it’s quite glorious.
So Google’s now doing that, porting (it’s called porting) numbers, letting Google Voice users tell Google to go ahead and snatch their phone number from their carrier so that when people call your regular number, it’s routed to Google and based on what you tell Google to do it will relay the call to any number or numbers you tell it to, thereby eliminating any need for a Google Voice-assigned number.
Here’s the catch: In addition to the $20 Google charges you to port the number (GV is otherwise free), when Google grabs your number from your carrier, your account with your carrier may be terminated, which means you’d need to make a new plan, paying for any early termination fee you may be exposed to, and the days you had on your old plan that accumulated to get you closer to being able to upgrade to a newer phone, well, I don’t know how that works. But you may get stung with an ETF. You’d want to check with your carrier on this if you find this Google Voice number porting enticing.
I’m aware that that’s a tall order. But hey, if you’ve used Google Voice a bit you may feel that it’s worth it. And if you’re fairly deep into your current contract or beyond it, you may have either a low ETF or none at all. Why is it worth it? Let me hit you with some of the features with an old but soulful video:
In addition, you can make free domestic calls from your computer and you’re not going to find cheaper rates on international calls. Conferencing too, a good app for your phone and hopefully soon SIP calling through Google so that you can really stick it to the carriers. Come to think of it if you tend to use your phone only in places where you get wifi, don’t get a new plan and instead live off the grid for free using SIP for voice (I recommend sipgate). To port, and again you should either call your carrier first to get a heads up on any subsequent procedures, log into Google Voice, then Settings and the button’s right in front of you.
If I’ve managed to hook you and you’re ready to take the dive, look over the porting FAQ.