Dropping Cellular, Using Google Voice only

For years, I’ve used Google Voice to handle my voicemail instead of the carrier solution. About 4 weeks ago I ported my cell phone number to Google Voice. Google Voice is just another VOIP carrier that has free SMS/calls to and from numbers in the US. The international rates seem good too.

Some of my personal pro’s/con’s:

  • Simple web interface to use, integrated Google Contacts with my google account. Easy.
  • Voicemail service. Free.
  • Single phone number. Don’t need to try to get people to use a new number (Have you ever done that? It is a really difficult task)
  • Save $1000/yr by not having a cell phone contract. As alluded to here.
  • I must be around two things to use my phone number: a) computing device, b) wifi
  • Wifi voice calling is somewhat sketchy, I’m not sure if it is the app on my iPad or the wifi service? Regardless, I don’t prefer voice calls anyway. I’d rather use skype or facetime.
  • If I do get a call, I will probably miss it since I am not “wearing” my cell phone anymore. However, I can easily return the call without too much latency, if I want.
  • Slightly less convenient when trying to meet people and/or finding directions to someplace (need to plan ahead better)

I did setup a US-based VPN so I’m guessing that I will be able to use this service outside the US in the near future too. Of course, I can’t test that scenerio, yet.

Overall, I would recommend porting to Google Voice if the above list seems logical to you. If I really needed a better mobile solution (which I don’t) I would consider getting a pay-as-you-go/prepaid phone which would cost less than half per year and still port my number. I don’t want to be bound to a contract, and really, I haven’t yet found why a cell phone is needed in these past 4 weeks. I use to think it was crazy to go without a cell phone but now I’ve changed my tone..

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20 Comments.

  1. I’ve been using Google Voice as my hand-out number pretty much ever since I first got it. I have Google Voice configured to include my cell phone when someone calls me, so I receive gvoice calls on my cell phone. I also have Android configured to use Google Voice as my outbound…this results in me using cellular minutes while the callee sees my gvoice number on the caller ID.

    The biggest benefit? Who cares about number porting? I can replace a phone cheaply and use a different one, and still only hand out my gvoice number as the number for people to call.

    I’ve begun to encounter quirks with gvoice through gmail, though; it’s not ringing all my gmail instances. This may be because I’m using multiple google accounts, with my gvoice on my personal, but with me tending to use my work account as my default. Or it may be a firewall issue. I just don’t know.

  2. Google Voice doesn’t seem to work for me consistently. Certain carriers can’t call my nubmer i.e. ATT. I was so excited about this concept. Are you still having perfect service?

  3. I’ve started to notice another quirk…my phone is among the endpoints that doesn’t always ring. It’s weird.

  4. I was thinking of starting a google voice account. Does it replace cell phone service? Meaning I currently pay upwards of $100/month for 2 lines from Sprint. Do I need to keep this Sprint service on (keep paying) in order to recieve calls and make calls? Or does google voice just need a cell phone (not active with service) in order to make and recieve calls/texts? I hate paying this much for service and would love to have free service :) Thanks

  5. It does not replace cellular service. A call I receive on my cell phone via Google Voice counts against my cell plan minutes. A call I send from my cell via Google Voice counts against my plan minutes. (At a technical level, this is because Google Voice, in the cellular case, has the cell phone call into Google, and then the call goes from Google to the destination number. For inbound calls, your friend calls your gvoice number, reaching Google, who then turns around and calls your cell.)

    Calls made to/from Google Voice on your computer, on the other hand, are free.

  6. i currently use two cell phones…both with sprint. I want to cancel one phone and take that number and use it for google voice. I know that if you switch carriers you are now able to take your number with you but does anyone know how i can cancel my cell and use that number for good voice….i would then put google voice on my other cell phone. Thanks for the help!

  7. I was surfing the web and I think this link will help you…. I will be trying the Google Voice to reduce my cell phone bill… Good Luck!! http://blogs.computerworld.com/mobilewireless/21123/google-shrink-phone-bill

  8. I have used google voice to replace all my cellular service. I use talkatone for iPhone and groove ip for android. I can make convenient and pretty good quality on my ipad, iPhone, android, and windows computer all with one number. Text messages are free too. I only have a prepaid service on my android to take with me if have I may have an emergency and need to call. Wifi is a slight inconvenience but you just have to be patient to look for a hotspot but they are almost everywhere.

  9. For those of you thinking of doing this, I ported my number to Google Voice a little over a month ago (“finished” porting on Jan 4). I still can’t get calls. And I’m not the only one. Check the google voice forums on support.google.com. So, if it works, I’m sure it’d be great. For me, the number I’ve had for years now just greets callers with “this number is disconnected!”

  10. Flying by the seat of my pants here, since I just ported from TMobile to GV myself… with no plans of maintaining a cellular plan. I’m taking it from your post that I can just use something like Talkatone or a GV app on my iPad with Verizon to make calls. Hope so! And re: davclark’s comment, I hope my number even ports!

  11. I canceled my Verizon Wireless service recently because the monthly bill was so high. I just set up a Google Voice account, and used my folks’ phone number as a forwarding number to get my GV activated, then I requested a new number from GV. I connected my cellphone to my wireless connection at home, then I disabled my “Mobile Network” on my cellphone. Then I downloaded Google Talk and GrooveIP and installed them on my phone. Went back into GV through my PC and unchecked my folks’ number so that their calls aren’t forwarded to my cell. Logged into GV, GT on my cellphone and use GrooveIP to dial phone numbers to call. Works great! Can receive and send calls.

  12. It looks like, from what people are saying, you can cancel your cell phone service, and call using apps + GV account … but don’t you need to be where Wifi is? Or can you get just a 3G or 4G plan for cheap, so you can have the internet on your phone still (!)

  13. Soren, there’s no need to be on wifi for it to work on your cell phone. You can even get a cheap prepay phone and have it pretty much work; you tell Google your cell number, and when someone calls your GV phone number, they’ll call your cell and route the call through to you.

    I no longer endorse Google Voice…while it still does what I need of it (one phone number to reach out to many devices and places), Google has been clamping down on interoperability…heck, they’re discontinuing “Google Voice” as a product, and rolling the functionality into “Hangouts”. During the transition period, there was a duration of a couple months where you had to know where to look in order to get the Google Talk hangout plugin for a new installation (needed for GMail before Google finished integrating Google Hangouts into GMail). This broke my primary use for it until I figured out the right search keywords to get to the appropriate download page. (Since the link in GMail didn’t work properly.)

    While the thing still does exactly what I need of it, day-to-day life is serious business, and Google’s strategies in 2013 make me less and less willing to rely on their products for business-critical tasks.

    Sadly, I can’t think of anything I might recommend for the same price point. Skype is the only well-known and reliable alternative in the field.

    • There is no NEED to be on wifi, but you do need a data source. Is that what you meant?

      I won’t comment on the other points since I have been out of the US for so long. GV still does what I need when I’m overseas.

  14. No; you don’t (or shouldn’t, unless they’ve changed things) need a data source for *inbound* calls. (So, people should be able to call your GV number, and your cell phone or gmail tab will ring.)

    For outbound calls, you either need a data source or an external computer to arrange the call. There are three modes of outbound calling in Google Voice. The first requires data and a computer:

    1) Your computer contact’s Google’s server, tell’s Google’s server who it wants to call, establishes a bidirectional audio connection with Google’s server using a VOIP protocol. (It used to be XMPP+jingle, but they’re moving away from that.)
    2) Google’s server dials the destination number
    3) Google’s server ties the outbound DID audio stream to the audio stream going to your computer; you hear the ringing and whatever else happens after the dial.

    The second also requires data (and a cell phone):

    1) An app on your cell phone contacts Google’s server, tell’s Google’s server who it wants to call. The communication between your cell phone and Google’s server happens over your phone’s data connection.
    2) Google’s server provisions a phone number (at Google) for your cell phone to call, tells the app on your cell phone about this number. The communication between your cell phone and Google’s server happens over your phone’s data connection.
    3) The app on your phone directs your phone to dial the number Google provisioned. *This* connection to Google goes out over your phone’s native phone connection; it’s a traditional phone call, but between your phone and Google.
    4) When your phone manages to call Google, Google dials the number you’d asked for, and connects the two audio streams together. You hear the ringing and whatever else is on the line after that. As far as your hardware is concerned, this is a traditional phone call between you and Google; Google is “forwarding” you on to the destination you asked for.

    The third outbound data approach does not require your cell phone to have a data connection.

    1) You navigate to voice.google.com, enter a phone number and click Call. You can do this with a web browser on your phone, or you can do this with any laptop you have available. (If you’re using the web browser on your phone, yeah, your phone will need some sort of Internet connection.)
    2) Google’s server calls your cell phone.
    3) When you pick up, Google’s server calls the number you asked for, and connects the two audio streams together. As far as your hardware is concerned, this is a traditional phone call between you and Google; Google is “forwarding” you on to the destination you asked for.

    Mind you, this is all for *outbound* calls. For inbound calls, either you’re using a browser, and thus need a data connection, or a cell phone, in which case Google calls your cell phone’s native number and routes the remote caller through.

    Make sense?

    • Sure. What you say IS accurate if you have a cellular plan existing. You definitely use GV more than me, so I defer to what you say. I only use it in such a way that I have no cellular plan (eg another cellular phone number). This would classify as the first method that you detailed, and I always need a data source for inbound or outbound calls (wifi, in my case)

  15. Sure. I just wanted to give as thorough an answer to the “data or no data” question as possible. It’s nonsensical to expect communication without a phone and without an Internet connection of any kind. Voice isn’t RFC 1149-compliant.

    (Though you shouldn’t need a “plan” for a cell phone, either; a phone with prepaid minutes on it should work in a pinch, too.)

  16. i’m a smart guy who is a little confused about how to do this… .uggg. I too want to give the finger to Verizon.

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