Google Voice is a service that lets you do a number of interesting things with a phone number. You can link multiple lines to one number, so that when you receive a call your cellphone, work line, and home line will all ring, for instance. You can also have Google Voice automatically transcribe your voicemail messages (poorly) and shoot you emails each time a new message comes in, set quiet hours when your phone won’t ring at all, screen your phone calls, and send and receive free text messages. If you have an Android phone, you may also be able to the default voicemail service with Google Voice.
But there’s one major problem with Google Voice: When you sign up you get a new phone number that you have to actually give to people. You can’t just port your existing phone number… yet. But it looks like that feature is coming soon.
Last night a number of users noticed a new option to port an existing phone number for $20. It’s since been removed, but Google tells Engadget that the company was testing the new number porting service with a limited set of users and plans to “offer this feature to all users in the near future.”
There’s one major problem that you may have if you do manage to port your number: it will effectively cancel your existing phone contract and your current carrier may charge you an early termination fee. Having one number ring all your phones might not be quite as exciting if you no longer have a cellphone or land line contract since the phone you ported might just not ring anymore.
I’ve been using the same phone number for my mobile phone for the past five years and a different number for Google Voice for the past three or so. When I give out my number to most new contacts, I simply give the Google Voice number, so in the long run I probably won’t bother porting. Some people call my Google Voice number while others call my cellphone number and I honestly don’t know or care which is which. Either way I get a phone call. But it’s likely that if Google can work out the kinks in number porting, it could make it a lot easier for new users to join the service.