Things to consider before porting a number to Google Voice

Google Voice now you to port your old cell phone numbers to the service -- but should you do it?

If you're one of the few Google Voice users granted the option to port your existing phone number to the service--congratulations. This new feature is being tested by Google now, and will roll out to all users in the "near future," according to a company spokeswoman.

Google Voice is a phone management service whose features include call forwarding, call screening, visual voicemail, and free text messages. There are many advantages to making a Google Voice number your primary point of contact, but handing over your old number isn't a decision to be made lightly. Your cell number, after all, is precious -- I've had the same one since high school -- so here are five things to think about first:

Early Termination Fees

As my colleague Ian Paul points out, porting your cell phone number to Google Voice before your contract is up will result in a $20 charge from Google and an early termination fee from your cell phone carrier. These fees can be as high as $350, depending on type of phone, carrier and time remaining on your contract. Find out how much you'd owe before making the switch.

Use of Gmail Calling

Just to be clear, Google Voice is not a VoIP service. It will consume voice minutes for cell phone calls. But Google does have a VoIP service that works through Gmail, and you can set it up to work with your Google Voice number. Calls to and from Gmail are free within the United States and Canada through the end of 2011, so this is a great way to save cell phone minutes when you're at a computer.

Text Messaging Habits

As I mentioned above, Google Voice lets you send and receive text messages for free, potentially resulting in huge savings on your monthly wireless bill. (MMS messages will still cost extra, because Google Voice doesn't support photos or video in its messages). However, T-Mobile and Sprint already offer unlimited messaging with their smartphone plans, so there's no financial gain to be had with those carriers.

Android User?

The Google Voice apps for iPhone and Blackberry are fine, but you can't tap the service's full potential without an Android phone. The app for Google's operating system lets you customize ringtones and dial directly through the app (instead of bouncing you to the default dialer). It also integrates messages directly into Android's notification bar.

Faith in Google

Porting your cell number to Google Voice seems simple enough. You pay the $20 fee, get another number from your wireless carrier and set up call forwarding through Google Voice. But it's not yet clear what happens if you to port your number back to a wireless carrier -- say, if you get tired of the service, or if for some reason Google stops offering it. I've had the same phone number for a decade because carriers have a system for transferring numbers amongst themselves. I'm not sure whether carriers are equipped to grab your number back from Google.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags mobileGoogleAndroidtelecommunicationPhonesconsumer electronics

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Jared Newman

PC World (US online)
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?