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Google Voice Tests Number Porting: Turning Point For The Service?

Long awaited, it was first spotted by Engadget yesterday: Google Voice number porting. Though it’s only available in a limited test to a limited number of users, number porting is coming very soon to everyone with a Google Voice account. Currently that porting option only pertains to wireless numbers and not landlines.

Credit: Engadget

Gone Now, But Coming Back “Soon”

How about some Q&A on the feature? OK!

Who gets it?

Only a lucky few who spotted the option when it was enabled for some accounts briefly. Google says it is no longer being offered to anyone.

Why offer it now?

Google told us yesterday that porting was happening now because several issues on the back end had been worked out, making it easier to move your wireless number to Google Voice. (There were some expressions of cynicism I heard around the timing given that Verizon has now embraced the iPhone.) Regardless, it’s a welcome development.

When will it come to everyone?

Soon, Google told us.

What happens when it comes back?

It will cost you $20, and it’s essentially like changing your carrier even though you may simply want to use Google Voice on the front end and remain with your current carrier. Accordingly you may have to pay early termination fees depending on your mobile phone plan.

Can I port my landline?

No, only mobile numbers. Google didn’t say when or if landline porting might come.

Who would use this?

The product is right now for geeks and early adopters. But number porting — especially of landlines — could be a major turning point for the service. Landline porting isn’t currently available but there’s good reason to think it will be in the future.

According to the latest US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) report on “wireless substitution” (for landlines), “26.6% [of US homes] had only wireless telephones  . . . during the first half of 2010. In addition . . . 15.9% received all or almost all calls on wireless telephones despite having a landline.”

Google Voice, with its suite of services and capabilities and its cheap international calling, could well become the “landline” number for lots of people who don’t want a traditional landline.

Postscript: This is now live. See My Life With Google Voice Number Porting, Six Months In.

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Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.

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