Google gives its Voice to all Americans
'We are the ultimate in human communication'
Google Voice — the new-age telephony thingy that lets you attach a single phone number to multiple phones, turn your voice mails into emails, and thumb your nose at AT&T — is now available to everyone in the US.
Previously, the service was invite-only. "After lots of testing and tweaking, we’re excited to open up Google Voice to the public, no invitation required," the company said today in a blog post.
Google Voice was originally built by GrandCentral Communications, a startup that Mountain View purchased in June 2007. The service lets you set up a single number that will ring all your phones — from your cell phone to your home phone to your office phone. It automatically transcribes your voice mails. And it offers free calls and texts within the US and Canada, as well as low-cost international calls.
Google says that over one million people are currently using the thing.
US telcom giant AT&T isn't too happy with the service. Clearly, Google Voice is a direct financial threat to AT&T's phone service, but Big Phone also claims that Google Voice makes Google a net neutrality hypocrite. Big Phone says that in blocking certain high-priced calls to rural areas, Google Voice is violating the fourth principle of FCC's famous 2005 internet policy statement, which says "consumers are entitled to competition among network providers, application and service providers, and content providers."
AT&T isn't allowed to block such calls, so it's arguing that Google has undermined competition.
Famously, Mountain View built a Google Voice application for the iPhone, but it was banned by the Apple App Store police. AT&T is the iPhone's exclusive carrier in the US.
So Google built a mobile web-based application instead. The company has also integrated a Google Voice voicemail player with Gmail — you can forward voicemails to your email inbox — while offering a Google Voice Chrome extension and a tool for sending SMS texts to email.
What's more, you now have the option of using your existing phone number with the service.
According to Google, Google Voice is the pinnacle of modern human communication: