How Google Voice Works

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Google Voice is a service that aims primarily at unifying communication channels such that through one single number, several phones can ring. At the base, it is not a VoIP service like Skype, but it does take advantage of VoIP technology over the Internet in order to route some of its calls, to allow international calls at a cheap rate, to allow free local calls, and to offer the numerous features it is known for.

Google Voice gives you a phone number, known as a Google number. That number can be ported to the service, that is you can use your existing number as your Google number, but it is based on certain conditions. You give out your Google number for people to contact you. Upon an incoming call, you have several options to handle this communication.

Ringing Multiple Phones

Your Google Voice account gives you an interesting number of configuration settings and preferences, among which is a feature that allows you to set which phones you want to ring when someone calls on your Google number. You can enter up to six different numbers to have six different phones or devices ring upon a call. For instance, you may have your mobile phone, home phone, office phone ring.

You can add a time flavor to this by specifying which phones can ring at which time. For example, you can have your home phone ring in the afternoon, office phone in the morning, and smartphone at night.

Google Voice handles this by linking with the PSTN (traditional landline telephone system) and the mobile network to hand over the calls. It works the following way: Any call initiated through Google Voice necessarily has to pass through the PSTN, the traditional phone system. But the PSTN doesn’t do all the work. The call is then handed to the Google space on the Internet, which is where the ‘numbers are pooled’. Say the call is directed to another Google Voice number, that number is identified within Google’s numbers, and from there, the call is sent to its final destination.

We need to keep in mind that the main aim of Google Voice is to unify communication channels, more so than saving on cost. As a result, you can easily switch carrier without having to change phone number, as one number can ring any phone through any carrier. If you change carrier, all you need to change is the number to which your calls are routed, which is completely at your discretion and easy to do.

Google Voice Cost

Cost-wise, this also implies that you still have to pay your phone or wireless carrier, because finally, Google Voice is not a complete alternative to the services of these carriers, unlike Skype and the like.

Does Google Voice allow you to save money? Yes it does, through the following ways:

  • It allows you to make free local calls and overseas calls (inbound from outside the US) to any number within the United States and Canada.
  • It allows you to make cheap calls (at VoIP rates) to numbers to any international destination. Such calls would be many times more expensive through traditional telephony.
  • It offers free SMS, such that you can send text messages through your Google number without paying. 
  • It offers other features for free, which would otherwise be paid, especially in such quality. Google Voice itself is free.

It is good to note that Google Voice is available unfortunately only in the United States. You may want to consider alternative services that allow multiple phones to ring upon an incoming call.