Google Voice offers up a number-porting kluge

Google Voice now lets you move your current cell phone number so it becomes your primary Google Voice number - but you might want to think twice about doing it.

The upside is that your current cell number - the one everybody associates with you - can be tricked out with all the features Google Voice offers. Your friends don't have to learn your separate Google Voice number because your cell number becomes your Google Voice number.

These features include managing calls among all your phone numbers, visual voicemail, voicemail transcription, custom voicemail greetings, listening in on voicemail before deciding to pick up and low-priced international calling from the Web or on your phone.

But in order to port your cell number to Gooogle Voice, you have to pay a $20 porting fee. Porting will terminate your cell contract, and that may involve a penalty. Then you have to get a new cell phone account so Google Voice will have a cell phone number to route your calls to. And you might lose use of your original cell number for a day while the porting is going on.

Number porting is available only to current Google Voice customers - those who have already been telling their friends to call the phone number Google Voice issued to them. They will have to tell their friends to forget those numbers because once the porting is complete, the former Google Voice number is taken away.

Number porting for current customers became available today and will become available to new customers in a matter of weeks, Google says.

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Tags unified communicationsGoogleNetworkingvoiptelecommunicationgoogle voice

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