So, I’ve just started getting really upset at my cell phone bill. I live and work in the Fort Wayne, Indiana area and have Verizon as my cell phone provider. Now, Verizon does a fine job of cell phone service. I get 1,400 minutes a month for around $105 a month. But, recently my bill has been closer to $200 a month after all my overages. Most of the time, I can trace my overages to long support phone calls, etc. Making a call to tech support on behalf of a client that ends up lasting 30 – 45 minutes can really start to eat into cell phone minutes.
So, I’ve just started looking for a better solution – something that works well here in the Fort Wayne area. And, about the same time, guess what Google introduced? That’s right – Google Voice (http://www.google.com/voice). Now, Google voice is a private beta service. You can only use it IF you had an account with the company they bought – Grand Central. But, it just so happens that I do indeed have an old Grand Central number. So, I’m part of the private beta.
Here’s a brief run down on Google Voice. First – it provides no dial tone. It is simply a number that others can call and then it is basically forwarded to another number – like a cell phone, home phone, VOIP phone, etc. It also has GREAT voice mail and a ton of features (caller ID, call waiting, call listen in, all that normal jazz). The voicemail is really nice in that Google will attempt to transcribe the message and e-mail you a written copy of it with a link to listen to it. So, if the transcription isn’t good (although it has been really good so far), you can simply listen to the voice mail as you would any other.
At Google Voice’s home page you have a list of all your addresses (imported from Outlook, Address Book, or Gmail), list of all incoming calls, all placed calls, all voicemails, etc. Basically it is a lot like GMail, but just for Voice.
Now, the problem is NO DIAL TONE. This is a forwarding service only. So, what good is that? Well, for me, not much as my goal is to offload work from my cell phone. So, I paid for a SKYPE IN number. A Skype In number is a number OTHERS can call me at and it rings my skype.
So, that’s all good, but how about making an outgoing call? Simple. I go to Google.com/voice and click place call. Then I type in the number or select it from my address book. Google then calls my skype (so skype thinks it is an incoming call). Once I pick up skype, then Google calls the number I wanted to call. And, now, Voila – I have an outgoing call, WITHOUT paying for skype out.
Just in case you are wondering, skype in is only $2.95 a month. And the sound quality is great. So, now, for right at $3.00 a month, I have unlimited incoming and unlimited outgoing calls and great voicemail and all the features (like caller id, etc.) that I could want.
Plus, should I ever want to, I can forward my Google Voice number to my cell phone, home phone, etc. Just in case.
So, far, from my experience here in Fort Wayne, it is awesome, cheap, and a great service.
Any else tried out either Skype In/Out or Google Voice? Let me know.