Last week, after nearly two years of waiting, Google Voice finally enabled number porting — the highly requested feature that lets you transfer an existing phone number to Google’s powerful telephony service. And then, just as everyone was getting excited, the feature disappeared. But now it’s back.
Turns out last week’s number porting launch was just a test (which is why Google didn’t announce it). Given the logistical hurdles involved it’s not really surprising that Google wanted to kick the tires first, and now it looks like they’re pleased with the results. Google Voice number porting is going live today for all existing accounts, and new accounts will be able to use number porting in the next few weeks.
The feature costs $20 to enable, and it comes with plenty of strings attached. When you port your number away from your carrier, you’ll likely automatically cancel your existing contract and will be charged an early termination fee that can run hundreds of dollars. It’s possible to avoid this fee by getting a new number from your carrier and keeping the contract alive, but that process will involve calling the carrier (likely more than once) to help you through the process.
Once you’ve agreed to plenty of warnings and paid your $20, your number will be transfered to Google Voice within 24 hours. You won’t miss any calls, but there’s a three day window where you may be missing text messages.
It’s a hassle, but, having gone through it myself, I think it’s totally worth it. Whether you like being able to more effectively screen your calls, or you have multiple phones, or you just like making phone calls from Gmail (which is awesome), Google Voice packs a lot of power, and it’s likely going to become even more useful over the coming years.