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Who Can’t Use a Free Phone?

Have you ever wished for a phone number that would be yours forever – no matter how many times you move or switch service providers? And wouldn’t it be nice if that phone number cost nothing. Wait…it gets better. How about if this phone could send and receive text messages? Enter Google Voice.

This online phone service routes calls to your cell, home, office, or wherever you tell it. Or it takes a message and stores it for you online. It links with your Gmail contacts so you can look up a number and click dial to place a call. It does that by ringing your phone and, when you pick up, ringing the person you are calling.

There are no monthly fees and a call within the US costs nothing. Only calls outside the US are charged at the per-minute rate listed here. Even sending and receiving text messages is free. So if you are constantly texting a teenager, you can do it from your Google Voice number instead of your cell and save a bundle. It does conference calling, records calls, and offers phone numbers in just about any area code you want. Sweet.

So what’s the catch? The service is still invite only, which meant dropping your name in the hopper and waiting. But Google announced today that it is rolling out the ability to invite friends and family to people who already use the service. Know someone with a Google Voice account? Now is the time to start pestering them for an invite.


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Comments

  1. Like Crazy Computer Dad, I too wanted a Google Voice # so I could give one number to school and have it ring home, work, and cell when they call. (The school kept calling my cell # during the day but I have horrible cell reception in my office building) The GV # was utilized just this week when my son was sick!
    I work in telecommunications and I just read an article in a trade this week that the FCC may be looking into the GV service though. I don’t expect GV to continue without a pretty good fight from more traditional telephone companies.

  2. You could actually already do SMS texting from gmail/google chat. The Google Voice also lets you configure several phones it will try when someone calls it. For me, it means I can give the school one number to call and it rings all my phones. This is great for when the school calls home instead of work to let me know my child is sick. It will also send you an email and SMS transcription of voice mails you receive…which can be quite comical to read because the transcription has a hard time understanding what people say. There is even an app for Blackberry, I believe, that allows you to make calls through your google voice over your cell phone data plan.

    Also, thanks for the writeup on Kajeet. It is exactly what I was looking for to get my son, but couldn’t seem to find.