After rolling out a limited test last week, Google has officially launched the ability for Google Voice users to port existing phone numbers. Google Voice is a service that lets you give out a single number to your contacts which will ring all of your phones so you won’t miss a call if you’re at home, at the office, or even on Skype. You can also set rules for incoming calls such as quiet hours, or select certain numbers that should always go straight to voicemail.
The reason I’ve been a loyal Google Voice user for the last few years is because it automatically provides text transcripts of voicemail messages and emails them to me. Sure, the transcripts are usually pretty lousy, but they’re usually good enough to let me know whether to bother listening to the full message.
Now that users can port existing numbers, you don’t have to give out a new number to all of your contacts. That’s the good news. The bad news is that when you port your number to Google Voice, it will automatically cancel your phone contract. That means in order to continue receiving calls you’re going to need to contact your carrier and set up a new contract and then link your new number to your Google Voice account — and you may have to pay an early termination fee even if you aren’t planning on changing carriers.
It sounds like the best time for most users to to port a number is probably when your contract is already up anyway.
Google will also charge a $20 fee to port your number. The process can take up to 24 hours to complete.