January 25, 2011

How I Plan to Cancel My Wireless Phone Plan

(UPDATE: This post is still worth reading, but loyal reader Braden was quick to correct some of facts. Check out the comments at the end.)

When Google Voice came out last year offering free local numbers, I instantly grabbed one each for both my wife and myself. She currently uses her Google Voice number for her Chicago dessert table business. And we can set it up to forward calls to her cell phone, or just act as a dedicated voice mailbox with a specific greeting. I have yet to use my number. But Google's recent "number porting" announcement has given me a great reason to.

Because when my wireless contract is up, I am going to cancel my phone service. Remember the law that came out several years ago saying you could keep your number if you switch carriers? Well, for a 1-time number porting fee of $20, you can now switch that number to Google.

When people call you, you can utilize Google Voice the same way you accept calls now. Voice mail works the same, with the benefit of transcription as well. The only difference? The call takes place over your data network. You no longer need a voice plan. You better believe I'm making the leap the second I can without penalty.


Jason J said...

What did the fine people at U.S. Cellular ever do to you?

Eric Olsen said...

Someone came out with a free alternative to their commodity service.

Bradenex said...

I think you're a little underinformed. If you only want to be able to send or receive calls when in wifi range (on a wifi enabled phone or laptop only) then this might work. Google is NOT a cellular provider. From their porting FAQ:

"Note that you will still need carrier service (Sprint, T-Mobile, Cricket, etc.) to receive calls on your mobile phone."

So after porting, your current phone is almost worthless and all you get in return is a different Google Voice number which you now can't really use (often).

So if you prefer voicemail to a lot of direct calls (some do) and don't mind bleeding to death in your car instead of calling 911, then this is for you.

Eric Olsen said...

I could buy a Skype phone number, and re-do the post though, right? Why can't I accept calls directly through Google Voice?

Bradenex said...

Same problem with Skype. To everyone else, it's just another phone number, but for you it's a slightly fancier voice chat. Skype and Google Voice are VOIP services, meaning you need an IP address to get any service. You can get this IP address through Comcast (land lines), or through any cellular service provider (since cellular signal is just a data signal anyway).

Google Voice works by dialing you cell phone number after someone dials your GV number. If you don't have a cell phone anymore it has no one to patch the call through to and goes straight to voicemail. You can make outgoing calls using GV or Skype apps or gmail without a cell phone. You can also make Skype or GV calls with a cell phone without using your minutes because you are using your megabytes. Problem is, it's pretty much the same thing! Making you pay for minutes and for megabytes is like making you pay for digital cable and for the internet, or saying you can use 100 gallons of water a month and 20 liters. It's a wonderful scam that will eventually die. Someday we will all pay for data, that's it, just data, and we will get cable, cell service, internet, voip, and whatever other wonderfulness comes next for one price on one bill.

Did I explain things sufficiently? Other questions are welcome.

Bradenex said...

Here's how you'd really do it (given the current state of electronics).

Follow the steps exactly as you've outlined, then purchase a no-contract prepaid cell phone as your screener device/emergency phone. You could give this device's number to your wife and a select few and tell GV to only forward certain numbers to that phone. Ideally you would find a plan that gives you free mobile-to-mobile or unlimited night and weekends or some such feature where you could do your higher volume use. The best option would be to find a provider that allows you one free favorite number that gets unlimited free time. With this, you set that free number as your google voice number (which is what calls you when people call it) and, voila, nearly free unlimited calling. Too bad the only carrier (that I found) offering that was just bought by AT&T...

So your best realistic option would be to have a very limited, basic cell phone plan that you used judiciously, and to make sure you're in wifi range as much as possible.

EMH said...

the only real good thing i can see about number porting is this:
all your friends and family already have that number in their contact list, so there's no need to give them a new Google Voice number....so basically you're spending $20 to save you the hassle of letting everyone know a new number.

Eric Olsen said...

right, after further research, it looks like it's meant more for people with landlines and cell phones to be able to answer any call on any phone.