Ever since Google purchased GrandCentral and rebranded it Google Voice, the VoIP calling service has quietly become one of the company’s most innovative and useful communication products. It forwards all your calls (office, home, wireless) to a single number, transcribes messages and delivers them to your inbox, includes free texting, and more. There’s just been one thing missing: the ability to port your current phone number to the service.
Up until now, users had to pick a new number in order to fully utilize all of the Google Voice’s features. That meant telling all of your friends, family, and business contacts to call a new number and remembering to update your contact info with services you use like your bank, your doctor, and your cable company. Now, that’s about to change.
According to Engadget, for a brief time yesterday evening, Google began testing a feature to allow users to port their mobile numbers over to their Google Voice accounts. In other words, your phone number now resides in the cloud. This is one of those features that may move Google Voice into the mainstream.
Before you get too excited, there are a number of caveats to keep in mind. First off, the service only works with mobile numbers, so you will not be able to port that landline or VoIP line just yet. Also, unlike most other Google services, this will not be free. It will cost you $20 each time you port a number.
Also, by porting your number from your current cell carrier to Google Voice, you are effectively canceling your contract with your carrier and if you are under contract you will be charged an early termination fee. You would then need to sign up for another carrier plan to make calls from your Google voice number. And lastly, if you already have a Google Voice number, your newly ported one will take its place, but you do get 90 days to make the transition.
If you’re still gung-ho about porting your number to Google Voice, Google says it’s currently testing this feature out for a limited time, so you’ll have to check in with them to see if the option is available.