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Jun 16, 2009

Google Voice: Bring your number

Google might be making it easier to adopt Google Voice by letting users bring an existing number.

Getting started with Google Voice could be easier if you could bring an existing phone number.

Techcrunch reports that Google plans to bring the concept of number portability to its Google Voice product, allowing you to use an existing cell phone number as your Google Voice number. At the moment, those who sign up for Google Voice are given a brand-new phone number that others can call to a reach a user at home, work, or on the mobile.

The trouble is that when you call somebody back who called your Google Voice number, the number that appears in their caller ID window is the number of the device that you're using, forcing them to store several different numbers in their phone anyway to know who's calling them and causing confusion over just which number to use. As an addition to the number portability efforts, Google is supposedly working on software that will let you broadcast your Google Voice number from your assorted handsets.

Google isn't going to be your wireless carrier just yet; you'll still have to have some sort of account with a carrier to deliver your calls, texts, and e-mails. Google Voice also lets users access voice mail transcriptions from their e-mail in-boxes and set up conference calling, among other things.

Google Voice is still in limited use; you have to have been a customer of GrandCentral, acquired by Google in 2007, to use the service. In March, Google said it would open up the service to everyone in "a number of weeks," which gives it a pretty large window.

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