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Google’s Phone Service Free for Another Year; Unlimited North American Calling for Nothing

Phillip Dampier January 7, 2013 Consumer News 6 Comments

google voiceGoogle Voice and its long distance calling service will be free for another year according to the company’s blog.

Google said it would extend its free North American long distance service through the end of 2013, and added it maintains very aggressive international calling rates.

Google’s phone service provides a free local phone number, free domestic calling, and offers free texting via an online application. Sprint customers can fully integrate the service with their smartphones while other carriers support the service less elegantly with an add-on app.

The service competes primarily with Microsoft’s Skype.

Currently there are 6 comments on this Article:

  1. Jer says:

    Do you have resources to show this impacts Google Voice or just calls from Gmail? The blog post linked only mentions calls from Gmail.

    • The Google Voice project and the Gmail Calling through Google Voice are treated the same by Google. Google Voice customers making calls through Google Voice effectively initiate them from a control panel either through Gmail or an app. Sprint customers can do direct 1+ dialing from Google Voice and some VoIP providers use Google’s calling service gateway for transparent outgoing calls.

      Google said earlier it would eventually charge something for its phone service, but not until its quality has improved. There is room for improvement in my experience. Don’t expect them to charge any more than their arch-rival Skype charges if and when they do begin asking for money.

  2. Jerome Harowitz says:

    Even their blog post has a link to their advert for making phone calls from Gmail: http://www.google.com/chat/voice/

    I’ve been using Google Voice (voice.google.com) far before the feature was added to Gmail. While I agree they are using the same technology, and IF you are already using Google Voice with that Google account it will use your same GV number, I don’t think it’s always the same and I would doubt they would ever charge for calls when integrated with Android. Sprint customers have the option to have GV fully integrated as part of their service but any Android phone can utilize it with full integration. The only difference with Sprint is your Google Voice and Sprint phone number are one in the same – and they support MMS through a forwarding system. While I have a separate GV number from my AT&T number my outgoing calls use GV by default (an option with Android integration).

    Google Voice also has it’s own blog (http://googlevoiceblog.blogspot.com) that while at times is cross-posted to from the Gmail blog it is a separate product. Maybe this same blog post will be posted over to the Google Voice blog but at this point it hasn’t. The same post was done over a year ago as well to state it was extended through 2012 – http://googlevoiceblog.blogspot.com/2011/12/free-calling-within-us-and-canada.html.

    All that to say that this “likely” applies to GV as well, the blog you pulled from doesn’t reference GV specifically so perhaps this image would be better suited for your post:
    http://www.google.com/chat/voice/images/call_phones.png
    :)

    • elfonblog says:

      Even if I got a Sprint phone, I wouldn’t let them tie it and GV together with the same phone number. It’s unnecessary, and obviously just a free-for-Sprint value-adder to keep you from switching providers. Just get your new Sprint phone working, and then use it’s number to apply for a separate GV number, with the Sprint phone being one of it’s extensions. Then, you can add and switch providers without losing your GV number along with it’s awesome features.

  3. elfonblog says:

    Yay! I’ve been using this since it was called GrandCentral. Since Google Voice dropped support for SIP through Gizmo5, I’ve run my own “PBX in a Flash” Asterisk server with several GV accounts used as trunks. The PBXIAF can also acquire service through multiple commercial SIP or AIX trunk providers, and is highly flexible. It’s capable of serving a simple household with multiple numbers and extensions, a small business with multiple departments, or even a call center. It’s all 100% free from the Nerd Vittles website.

    Some people don’t like using PC headsets with GV. The PBX allows my household to use landline phones in a perfectly ordinary way with GV when connected through a variety of SIP-ATA appliances I’ve bought at thrift stores. An ATA is basically like a Vonage box, but mine are reconfigured to connect to my own PBX instead of a commercial server out on the Internet. If GV starts charging a non-competitive rate, we can switch to a VOIP provider who charges $4-$30/mo for unlimited (various restrictions) calling in the USA/Canada. VOIP providers just need you to have an ATA (and high-speed Internet), and most will supply you with one.

    We also bought an OBi100 from ObiHai, which is a stand-alone box that connects a landline phone to your GV service. It literally has something like a PBX and GV bridge built into it, but it’s the size of a deck of cards. It’s $40 cheap, works great, and uses very little power. It should stay running for many hours in the event of a power outage, since it’s connected to the same UPS as the modem and router. It also does SIP, so we can still use it if we leave GV.

    • elfonblog says:

      Dang, that really sounded like an advertisement for PBXIAF or Nerd Vittles. I have no connection to them. I don’t even like Nerd Vittles’s style of “I’m-over-your-head-anyway” writing. I meant to emphasize how little it costs to get and make phone calls these days, and how much control we really do have over our options. It’s parallel to my observations concerning high-speed Internet, though we haven’t won a healthy choice of options there yet.

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