Google Voice has been around for quite some time and for the most part, users are very happy with the service.

The biggest complaint, however, was that individuals had to get a new phone number—a Google Voice number—in order to use the service.

Google now offers number porting for a small fee, so you can switch your favorite number to Google Voice—and get all the fun services that come with it.

How it works

Before you start swtiching phone numbers, it is worth noting that you can still sign up for free for Google Voice with a Google provided number. The downside, as noted above, is that creates yet another phone number for people to call.

If you have had the same mobile number for ten years, but want the advantages of Google Voice, you can port that number into Google Voice for a $20 fee. What that means is your wireless carrier no longer has the phone number, Google does.

This is where things get tricky. When you port your number, you are canceling your service with your existing wireless carrier—beware of any termination fees. Google has your number, but they do not provide phone service. So, you need to sign up for a different phone number with your wireless carrier. Next, you go into your Google Voice account (with the new ported number) and forward calls to your new number. That means you have a new number, but all calls to your old number (now Google Voice), will go to your new number.

It is not the easiest process in the world, but describing it makes it sound more complicated than it is. The Google Voice blog has plenty of instructions for completing the process.

Why it is worth the hassle

Google Voice has a bunch of sweet features, features that are not available on other applications like Skype. One of the best is free voicemail transcription. If you miss a call, Google will send you the voicemail along with a transcription. The transcriptions are not perfect, but they are usually good enough to give you an idea of what the message says.

Another great feature is call scheduling/screening. If you only want your Google Voice number to ring during business hours, you can do that. If you want calls to go to voicemail between midnight and six a.m., you can do that. You can also require that unidentified callers announce their name, which you then hear before deciding whether to answer the call.

Another neat feature is that you can stick a Google Voice plugin on your website. By clicking on the Google Voice button, a client can call you directly from their computer—cool stuff.

Porting your number is not the easiest process, but the added features of Google Voice should make the switch worthwhile.


  • Janice

    So the $20 fee is the only charge? Nothing monthly? My cell services expires in a couple of months, so that will be a good time to change.

    Thanks for the information.

    • Correct. With Google Voice, you don’t pay a monthly fee. It probably makes more sense to transfer your number to Google than to another carrier, since you can use GV with any phone you end up with.

    • There are no other fees from Google, but you still need to have service from a wireless carrier.

  • Steve Silberman

    If I return a call from the phone with the new cell number, is there any way to have my old, “ported” number show on the caller’s caller ID display? When I changed numbers several years ago, I spent the first few minutes explaining why I had a new cell number to those who had just called me on the old one.

    • Yes. If you use an Android phone, you can set it to use Google Voice as the default outgoing number. I’m not sure if you can do the same thing with an iPhone.

      You can also use Google Voice from any phone. You just give Google the number you want to call (either by calling your own GV number or in the web interface), and it rings your phone first, then the other phone. It’s an extra step, but it’s still pretty slick.

      • Using it on an iPhone is little clunkier, but it works.

        For outgoing calls using Google Voice on an iPhone, the caller ID displays “unknown number.” In Google Voice settings, there is no option for turning caller ID on, although there is a little note that says the feature will be available soon.

        • Steve Silberman

          I am still in the 20th century, I think; I still use a Treo 650, and, at least right now, see no reason to change.

          • Lawyers who see no reason to change make for plenty of clients to find those of us who do.

          • Steve Silberman

            I practice in a somewhat rural area, where a lot of my clients don’t have email, etc. I have, however, put aside the quills, manual typewriter and carbon paper. And, as is obvious, I do use the internet in my practice.

  • Jill Zimmerman

    I am just starting a solo practice and am planning to use a new number from Google Voice as my business number. I ordered a Blackberry Pearl last night–the GV app is supposed to work with Blackberry, but I don’t know how well it will work. It is very important to me that Caller ID on my clients’ phones will show my GV number when I call from my cell (rather than my personal cell number). Sounds like maybe I should have bought an Android phone? I have 14 days to return the Pearl.

    • I can’t remember how well-integrated GV is on Blackberry. When I had a Pearl (the old one), it wasn’t very good.

      Beyond just Google Voice, if you are going to be using Google Apps for your e-mail, calendar, etc., it seems like an Android phone would be the logical choice, anyway.

  • I’ve been waiting for this, but hadn’t heard about it yet. Thanks for the tip!

  • I had looked into this for a client a little while back, can this porting work for landlines, or only cell phone numbers?

  • bob mitchell

    We have 3 business lines and one fax line, we are moving the office but the local phone company (Comcast) can’t give me the same numbers, they advised me we need new numbers . Can I use this service to do the call forwarding for all 4 lines for business

    • Absolutely. You’d need to set up an account for each phone number, then forward it where you want it to go. This is easiest if you already have an Apps for Business account set up for email, etc. Of course, once you’ve ported these numbers to GV, you might just skip getting new numbers. It’s cheaper and way more flexible.

      • bob mitchell

        Thank you so much, I will try it today

  • bob mitchell

    It is not working on land line, I have Google number that forward the calls to a land line, but I can’t forward a land line to another land line using Google voice any ideas??

  • bob mitchell

    Using google to transfer a land line to another land line? is this possible

    • Again, I’m not sure how you mean. If both land lines are added to your Google Voice account and you are doing it with an incoming call, then yes. See the link I posted above.

  • Guy

    We have the same business phone number for the last 30 years and since we scaled down with no full time personnel in the office, our business line is always forwarded to my cell phone. I would like to know how to get rid of AT&T at $1,000.00 per year and have a Google account set up in the same manner with the ability to forward our incoming calls to a cell number. Also, how reliable is Google on forwarding calls.

  • Gernot Trolf

    Hi, I have a new Magicjack number and cancelled my ATT number. How do I change this so I can continue to use my Google Voice number? If my old number is xxx-xxxx (which is forwarded to my GV number) and my new number is yyy-yyyy how will I tell GV to use this number (yyy-yyyy) instead of the old (xxx-xxxx)?
    Anybody out there can help?
    Please email me.

    • Just log into your Google Voice account and make the change in the settings.