Google Voice has become increasingly popular, and is now offering a new feature that allows users to port existing phone numbers to the VoIP service. Up until this point, the only contention customers had with Google Voice was the inability to use their existing mobile phone numbers to make outgoing calls.
For the time being, this is merely a test run, but a Google spokeswoman told Engadget it will eventually be offered to everyone “in the near future.” If you’re a Google Voice user, check your phone settings for a “change/port” option. If it’s not there, just keep on waiting until you’re lucky enough to give the feature a test run.
Be forewarned that there are some less than thrilling strings attached to porting your number. Users will have to pay a $20 fee for the service, on top of any contract termination charges they’re subject to – and you will be subjected to them. Part of the agreement you sign when porting your number to Google Voice includes a warning that users will face early-termination fees from existing carriers if the current contract isn’t up. And The Wall Street Journal mentions that it’s possible switching to Google Voice will delay text messages for up to three business days.
WSJ also points out the carrier-changing game you’ll have to play. “You’ll have to go back to a carrier and get another plan with a new number, and then add that number to your Google Voice account if you want the service to work with a cellphone. It’s a complicated process, although it might be worth it for people who are tied to their existing cellphone numbers.”
As more and more carriers get on board with Android phones however, there’s a possibility they could work with Google on porting numbers. “Anything that increases customer convenience is a good thing,” an AT&T rep said.