Porting A Number To Google Voice

If you google the headline to this post, you are taken to this Google Voice support page which says:

Although you can't currently port your existing number to Google Voice, we hope to offer this option in the near future. Please tell us if this is a feature you'd like to see in Google Voice.

I am going to do a bit more than tell Google. I am going to tell the whole world.

I want to be able to port my cell phone number to Google Voice, just like I can port it to any wireless carrier.

I don't understand why this is not possible. I don't understand why the ability to port a number anywhere is not the law of the land. I don't understand why that number doesn't belong to me in every sense of the word.

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#VC & Technology

Comments (Archived):

  1. DGentry


    1. fredwilson

      apparently notbut even so, i don’t want to get it that wayi want to get it along with everyone else

      1. LIAD

        a true man of the people.

      2. Tereza

        Yes and BTW it should be a “consumer solution” not a “technical solution”.This should be available seamlessly at the push of a button.

      3. Senith MBA tutor

        +1 here!Mike Arrington clearly states that he was a guinea pig and it is not an easy process now. But he also states that they will hopefully release an easy process publicly hopefully later this year.

  2. Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry

    I don’t know much about telecoms regulation in the US so I’m curious: is this a legal issue or a technology issue?

    1. Aaron Klein

      Both, although it’s likely best considered a “lack of technology” issue 😉

  3. Guest

    I’m speculating, but I suspect it has to do with Google’s attempt *not* to be classified as a phone company — which would make them subject to all the applicable laws for phone companies and probably change the economics of Google Voice significantly.

    1. Andrew Shults

      Agreed – last I checked Google Voice still blocks the ability to call certain phone numbers (mostly those used by free conference call services where the actual money is made by the connection fees). If they were considered a carrier, then they would have fm connect all of these (expensive) calls. If Google wants to keep voice free they have to keep walking the line about not becoming a phone company.

  4. Wayne Schulz

    I think Google commented on this previously – something about the process still not being a perfect “hands off” procedure. It all harks back I think to Google not wanting to open a support desk to answer questions about why a number didn’t port.

  5. MadCiapka

    I suppose, that the lobby groups around wireless carriers are too strong, to let this pass in near future. The move to virtual operator is the last step – nobody is going back and the carriers are pushed back to a role of utility providers without any real power over their customers. Nice thing to have for us, very bad for them.

  6. Harry DeMott

    I believe that there is a law forcing carriers to do this – but only if you are going from carrier to carrier under and FCC regulated entity. So telecom companies as well as VOIP providers like the cable guys have to do this – and they have to do it within a certain time frame. The rise of the newer class of carriers like Google Voice and Skype has not yet been covered by these laws – which is why Google can’t do it yet. At least I think this is the case.

  7. jpwoodland

    Some folks over at TechCrunch (maybe only Arrington) ported their number over a year ago so I know it’s technically possible. I’m waiting on the same thing!

  8. T_R_O_N_I_X

    I second this motion… let freedom… err I mean a ported number to Google Voice ring.

  9. Andy

    It is a law…I believe it is called number portability

  10. Max

    google is not a carrier. simply.

  11. Alex Karpowitsch

    Whatever the case may be Fred, don’t stop with just one post about this. I’d be very interested to know the mechanics as to _why_ this hasn’t happened yet. It seems so trivial, and there is money to be made in this! Something doesn’t feel right here.

  12. ErikSchwartz

    I believe Arrington did it. So it can be done, I don’t think they have a process in place that scales right now.Ask Mike how it happened.

  13. samrigby

    I agree with the general sentiment, I want to be able to port my mobile number to Google Voice too. I have to say, though, “I don’t understand” your indignance. Number porting will happen, through a seamless process (the development of which, along with issues of Google’s status as a carrier, is likely causing the delay in presenting the option), and when it does, we’ll all port our numbers and then completely forget about how easy it was. And there will be no difference in our day to day lives, save for one fewer number on our business cards and in our email signatures.

    1. fredwilson

      my indignance is at those who stand in the way of what is right

      1. Adrian Bye

        google voice has been promising to implement portability for years and they just haven’t bothered yet. if att and verizon have to do portability, why shouldn’t google voice and skype?

  14. Matt A. Myers

    It can only be good for us, the consumer and society.I’m sure the carriers are pushing back hard on this though. Everyone hates their provider (mostly). If number portability opens up then people will migrate en mass.

  15. Matthew Waugh

    That number does belong to you. You just can’t use it on Google Voice. Just like your opinions belong to you, you just can’t get them published in the Washington Post.

    1. fredwilson

      i don’t think that is the right analogyi think it is more like “your opinions belong to you and you can publish them on twitter”

      1. Andre Garrigo

        Technically speaking I’m sure it can be done on Google’s end. They just don’t seem to be allowing it. So you are correct to call out Google in this as it is their fault.

      2. George A.

        Fred, if you are serious about this as an initiative, you should use one of the companies like RingCentral or Grasshopper (or the dozen others). They are virtually identical to GV in the ways in which they do call handling and they have 800 numbers you can call if there is a problem. They also allow porting. I find the call quality is superior at RC and they can be integrate with SIP phones, like that nifty one you blogged about a few months back.I think the issue with GV is actually a technical issue. They refuse to terminate certain types of traffic which is costly (largely free conference call traffic). In order to qualify for LNP, they need to cross the rubicon of terminating this traffic. Google has correctly complained that this makes them vulnerable to a voice equivalent of “click fraud” for an otherwise cut-rate service.Go with Ring central, hook it up to PhoneTag (which is far superior to GV) and you are good to go with a better solution.By the way, I do own my cell phone number…now if there is any way that I could get my yahoo email account away from yahoo, that would be awesome.

  16. CJ

    I read the title of your post and got all excited! I’ve been wanting this feature for as long as I’ve had a Grandcentral account. However using google voicemail with the option to ring all my google voice phone numbers before sending to voicemail works ok in the interim.

  17. Avi Deitcher

    I believe this to be a legal and technical issue. To the best of my understanding of the law, you do *not* own your number. I would need to read through the appropriate statutes (which would drive me out of my mind, as I am not a lawyer), but I believe the law requires the FCC-regulated carriers to relinquish your number in favour of another carrier. You do not, however, own your number. This is most visible if you try to get a toll-free number from a provider, many of which will not let you port out since you do not own it, and there is no LNP law for toll-free. I used to have a toll-free number for my business with onebox.com, will never go near them again for exactly that reason.Technically, the US is actually somewhat ahead of many other countries, but behind others. There are two ways to do portability. The first is that every time you make a phone call, your local carrier (say onsip.com for you per your other post, Fred, or AT&T if your mobile) goes to a centralized database (LNP Database), looks up who the carrier is, and routes to them. The US mostly works this way, with some quirks along the way. The other way is that your number belongs to your original carrier as it was originally assigned, and the call is routed to them, who then carry it through to another carrier that has it (or perhaps redirects you). A number of other countries work this way. Unsurprisingly, this method is fraught with problems and costs.For portability to work, Google would need to offer porting in and out, working with Neustar (who, I believe, still administers the primary LNP Database) and all of the other carriers, and have a method and process for handling the porting, both consumer-side and carrier-side, not to mention dealing with the regulators.The reality is, until you actually *own* your number and can just point it to whichever carrier you want – just like a domain-name and hosting, which are two separate services, the situation will persist, with some legally mandated improvements. Don’t expect Congress to do this; this little comment is beyond their comprehension and violates a host of heavily vested interests. Tons of info is available at the NPAC Web site http://www.npac.com/,

    1. fredwilson

      i think we should be able to own numbers like we can own domain names

      1. Adrian Bye

        we can own numbers with traditional carriers. it seems like with google voice and skype they are somehow skirting the portability laws

      2. Avi Deitcher

        Agree wholeheartedly. The world I envision is one where you have a phone number and there are lots of carriers. At any point, you can go online or “on-phone” and pick a different carrier to which your number points (provided you have services with them, of course). You could easily have virtual numbers and vanity numbers, as they are completely independent of the actual dialtone service.I think there is an opportunity for a “phone name service” that provides just your phone number and points it to whomever you want. register.com for phone numbers. Notice, though, that in the Internet space, most registrar businesses simply could not make enough of just that, and tried to get into the hosting, etc. spaces. The analogy is that a company could start as a phone number freedom company, but is likely to morph into a full-blown carrier. And in that space, due to the DNS structure, you could disaggregate dialtone service (in and out) from name representation (DNS); that would be harder here, although VoIP makes it easier. Still, if done right, great opportunity to disrupt carriers further….

      3. Louis Marascio

        The system just isn’t designed for this. The reason you can own a domain name is because DNS allows for resolution to an IP address, something you, as an individual, typically do not own. Traditional telephony just is not built for this. SIP, ENUM, and other related VoIP standards do allow for this–they simply do not have critical mass in their deployments. The SIP guys (of which I was one, currently reformed) believed that dialing by sip address (basically email address) would be a killer feature that would lead to mass adoption, and indeed it could have been had it not been for those pesky digits on the billions of phones deployed in the world. Dialing by name/email was simply too cumbersome and did not fix the basic model of use every human being was accustomed to when using their phone.Until there are fundamental changes in the system, from the basic architecture to how the end devices work, you won’t ever really get to the end game you want, IMO.

        1. fredwilson

          Great perspective born from years in the trenchesBut I still want to own my numbers

      4. William Mougayar

        I like that, and that would be the end of telco’s as we know them. That part of the business is their cash cow and what is keeping many of them alive. I have an international Skype number, and if my Internet connection or Skype’s service were as good everywhere, I would turn off the landlines.

      5. Guillermo Ramos Venturatis.com

        Applying the same rationale, would you include “portability” for gmail accounts, twitter profile, FB profile, Foursquare profile?I totally disagree on the users´ kidnapping game and fortifications built around them, but in the case of Telecom, the infraestructure capex is huge and the payback is also quite high, so altering the revenue stream of the operators should be done very carefully if we don´t want to put at risk their network investments which includes our beloved data bandwith. Most probably this is again another chapter on the Network neutrality.

        1. CJ

          I don’t see how the consumer owning the phone number modifies this, I’d still need their service/pipe and that’s where they make the money not leasing me a phone #.

          1. Guillermo Ramos Venturatis.com

            this is all about opening Mobile networks to VoIP players and to a larger extent MVNOs. Allowing number portability for pure VoIP players makes Mobile Operators loosing revenues as the “voice pipe” is not needed anymore. Certainly mobile operators don´t make money out of leasing phone #s, but not allowing number portability is about defending their voice revenues.

        2. fredwilson

          I love paying them for super high bandwidth connections. I am currentlypaying for five such connections on the sideline side and wish I could dothe same on wirelessThey should be in the data dialtone businessThey suck at services

      6. baba12

        You should ask your buddy Chuck Schumer to offer a bill to do just that, though given that he gets huge monies from Telco’s and Wall Street he would really care to make any changes to the status quo.Remember the situation you have is not a technical challenge, it is a barrier placed by an oligarchy and it has just worked for them so they are in no hurry to change anything that is generating huge amounts of revenue, and if you own any of their stocks you would not want that either.

      7. rshockey101

        For a good technical description of LNP read IETF RFC 3482. The issue with phone numbers is political not technical. I know since I used to work for the NPAC operator NeuStar (NYSE-NSR).I also founded the IETF ENUM working group. No one owns phone numbers. By international agreement they are considered a common resource which cannot be traded like a domain name. The complication with porting is that you cannot port out of a ILEC rate center. So if you move from lower Manhattan to the upper west side you cannot keep your phone number.LNP actually works like the DNS. It abstracts the phone number from its underlying PSTN routing information.If you want to change the system ..complain first to the FCC then your congress critter then the state PUC.

  18. Adrian Bye

    We also need porting in and out of skype

    1. fredwilson

      totallyand any voice service

  19. John Frankel

    A simple solution is to sign up for Phone.com’s Virtual Number, port your number there and then either use their service or set it up to forward to Google Voice if you prefer their offering. Costs a few dollars a month, but you get what you want today, with real support etc.Disclosure: Phone.com is a portfolio company.

    1. fredwilson

      i really don’t want to do that kind of runaround

      1. Adrian Bye

        thats only a partial solution because if you forward calls into google voice rather than google voice actually holding the number then you lose a bunch of features

      2. John Frankel

        Understand. It is a hack to get you there until Google Voice allows for portability, if they ever do.I have not read the rules and regulations, but Google Voice is able to not charge for their service and so not pay taxes in the 900 or so US jurisdictions that they would have to register for if they did. Number portability could cost them $20 or so per user and it is a relatively manual service. They might simply feel that they do not want to bear this cost, build the billing system, or that if they did it would make them a carrier and subject to regulation and taxation. At some level the fact they do not directly charge is a loophole and if they are going to be a carrier then they should impute income from the advertising and pay taxes on it.

  20. Cris Bjelajac

    I hope this is hyperbole. If you really don’t know why this is, then I might not want to be pitching any telecom startup ideas your way because I may be spending waaaaay too much time bringing you up to speed.

    1. fredwilson

      it is just a bit of hyperbolebut i think everyone here would benefit from a short explanation from you

      1. Rocket

        Arlo Gilbert posted a comment above on the reason. I got the exact same answer from a google employee last week.

  21. Pete

    That FAQ answer has been there for years. I’ll bet Google Voice would attract millions of new users if they offered this. And there are probably a lot of existing users (like me) who forward their cell phone number into Voice simply for the voicemail processing, and of course…Awesome transcription technology! Here’s a transcription of a message to me last week:”Hey Janey says recycling or you man. Hey, I’m I’m so Mark, I’ve seen some clarification as to he knows all about. As far as I know there hasn’t been any communications around find times. Changes, and I was just got in last night. It should be there, right there this morning and he’s committed, in being there on so that you know until Wednesday because he told me that Yes, the presentation secure. So, if there is any a misunderstanding, please gimme a call back. I have to figure out what’s going on with pages on. Thanks. Bye.”

    1. fredwilson

      there are three things i want from Google Voice:1) port a number to it2) allow me to connect PhoneTag to it so i can get human transcription thatworks reliably versus machine translation that does not3) international

      1. kenberger

        “word” re allowing us to plug in modules like PhoneTag.international- I’m very impressed w/ the ability to at least sms for free, to some countries, some times. Have used this a lot from US mobile<->SouthEast Asia.Re #1, we could complain to founder Craig Walker but he just last week became a VC and therefore of no functional use anymore =)

        1. fredwilson

          Craig emailed me after seeing this. I made my three asks directly to him

      2. Rakshith

        What will be cool is to receive calls via google voice and should be able to make calls directly from my cell phone with same number (not have to use google voice app to place calls), right now if u make the google voice number your primary number, then u will receive calls thru google voice, but u also have to use google voice app to place calls so that the number shows up in called ID, u can’t setup so that u can directly make call from cell phone and receive calls via google voice. This will be helpful when u r roaming and don’t have data coverage.

        1. mxmumtuna

          The Android/GV integration allows just that. You can set it up so that GV either:1) prompts you before every call if you want to use your GV or not2) automatically uses GV for all outbound calls3) never uses GV for outbound callsIt works very well.

          1. Rakshith

            Thats neat, So I guess this is only possible on iphone if apple lets google voice app to appstore, and we have to use this app as default phone app.The google voice web app, does not have the option to call without using GV account, its not hard to have an option to call using cell number (tel://), if they add this then I can use GV web app as default phone app on iphone, but will be neat if google submits the GV app now since apple is approving such apps.

          2. CJ

            Apple has let two Google Voice apps back into the app store as of today. I guess all of the criticism was finally getting to Jobs.

      3. John Sheehan

        Port it to Twilio, setup OpenVBX, commission a PhoneTag plugin (there’s already one for a different human-powered transcription service) and….done!

        1. fredwilson

          Really?I am so doing that

          1. Mike Glanz

            I think John might have over simplified the process… but that’s definitely the solution any REAL nerd would implement… 😉 There are probably 100 other benefits to doing it that way as well…

      4. Alex Quilici

        Having worked on this issue in the past, porting is way more difficult to get right than folks realize.Think about what happens when you’d request a port – you’d ask GV to port your number, they (or level III or whoever their underlying CLEC is) has to send transactions to the various carriers requesting that port based on info you’d provide, but there a host of errors that can occur (you haven’t paid up your bill, you’re under contract, you have a unique contract that you won’t be able to get again, etc..). Those all have real costs to deal with – including providing customer support when numbers vanish as part of the porting process (where are all of Google’s customer support reps?)And on top of that, you would then have to get a new contract and new number from your wireless carrier.So – if portability is out any time soon – is it fair to say that your real goals are:1) Keep your number.2) Get a great third-party voicemail service.3) Get cheap international calling integrated with your dialer.There are a host of services that attack #2 and #3 with your existing cell phone number.You can get the better voicemail with YouMail (and others). BTW, if you want human transcription on your GV number, just point your Google Voice e-mail address at [email protected], where TN is your mobile number. It has human transcription – actually often brought to you by PhoneTag.You can get the cheap calling from RebTel or TruPhone or a host of others – all with their own twists, but all essentially available through the dialer.You can even get free txt messaging on top of that from Pinger (and some others).So there’s no need at all to get another number to get a vast improvement in these areas.In fact, while there’s appeal to have it all as part of a single service, the stand alone services tend to do a much better job on their particular pieces than Google does. In fact, it would probably behoove Google to open up GV with plug-ins, so people can customize their experience, while making it relatively seamless w/GV.

        1. Aaron Klein

          I think Fred means being able to have your GV number ring an international number.You can already make international calls from GV.

        2. fredwilson

          I think Google ought to allow a paid porting service to operate on theirplatform if they don’t want to offer this feature. They ought to allow allof the companies you mention and services like phonetag to operate on it too

          1. jlee

            FINALLY someone said it! Thank you Fred. We are talking a Business Service right? Services firms should make a profit right. Start by charging those of us that can afford it a High Price and Make a profit hand-holding this entire process. Charge $250+ per port and I bet they could have 100,000 porters next week ($25,000,000 at the start up)! Make it available, as Fred suggested, open to numerous Service Oriented PORTING firms that work directly with Google and Google can automate their process to these firms and everyone is happy by ultimately getting our numbers into Google Voice.At this point I would pay that much.As for the rules and regulations aspects I have not a clue, that may be the ultimate hang up without a reasonable solution.Also Google is good at being honest, correct? Why not publish their issues and let the crowd help pressure a solution in the political arena. or am i just wishful thinking here?

    2. johnmccarthy

      I’ve seen absolutely zero progress from Google in improving accuracy of VM transcriptions in the year + I’ve been using it. I am thinking about no longer using it. Just another email I need to delete.

      1. fredwilson

        Phonetag baby!Google voice needs to allow third party services onto their platform

  22. Michael Langer

    I will settle for being able to port my google voice number from one Google account to the other for starters…….

    1. RV

      You can do it right here:http://spreadsheets.google….It takes about 2 days. I transferred my gmail number to my google apps account successfully!

  23. JimHirshfield

    I agree with the principal of universal portability. But as for Google Voice, I find that my combo of Nexus One + G Voice + Replacing the carriers voice mail system with Google Voice give me what I’m looking for. Point being, anyone that calls my mobile number finds me where ever I am, and it goes to google voice mail if I don’t answer (transcription, feh, but OK, seamless integration with Nexus One). And we all know how it works when people call my Google number. Not sure how much more benefit I’d have if number were actually ported over.

  24. Jake Rocheleau

    Couldn’t agree more. I’m assuming all it’s gonna take is some time for companies to work this out and get it in place. Especially considering how new(ish) Google Voice is

  25. kenberger

    If there was a male equivalent to the phrase “you go, girl!”, I’d say it here!!(‘word’ doesn’t quite cut it).

    1. Kelley Boyd @msksboyd

      What about “Dude, crush it!” ;>)

  26. perfy

    Does the number really belong to you though? Or has technology just improved to a level where it feels like it does? I think back to growing up, and my parents still have the same phone number as when I was born 32 years ago, but I would bet you they don’t claim any owner ship of that number (a land line).I think anyone who has been using a mobile number for an extended period of time, and moved it from one carrier to another starts to feel as though the number is more theirs than anyone else’s, since it’s been past on, but if it belonged to you and you alone, what would happen when you stopped using that number? I know historically, a number no longer in service would get re-assigned at some point in the future, but if it belongs to the customer, who can re-assign it?These are not rhetorical questions, I am trying to think out into the future to where this model would logically take us. Would there be a high number of number attrition? Maybe there would be less? I currently have multiple numbers, but wouldn’t need them anymore.Fred, you mention people standing in the way of what is right. Are these carriers, gov’t agencies, or others? Do they have an argument on their behalf? Be it technological or otherwise?

  27. Arlo Gilbert

    The act of porting the number costs Google money.The maintenance of that number costs Google money whether you use it or not.Depending upon what NPANXX your number is will also affect the costs for Google.A real live human being has to be part of the porting process which slows things down.From a technical perspective it is extremely possible, from a business model perspective perhaps not so.

    1. Adrian Bye

      if we can route trillions of DNS queries every day for free, surely phone numbers can be easily ported from one carrier to another for free

    2. fredwilson

      I think offering porting would be a game changer for them. They should bitethe bullet and do it

  28. Rakshith

    This is good as long as the service is free, at some point google will start charging for making local calls or may be even a monthly service fee for the google voice number. This is another issue I see with distributing my current google voice number as my default number, if at some point google will start charging a fee, then either I have to be stuck with google or have to cancel google voice number and then have to send a notice to all my contacts about number change.

    1. Reid Curley

      Currently, you can port out of GV, you just can’t port in. Roach motel in reverse.

    2. fredwilson

      Port it somewhere else

  29. Nottingham


  30. Mark Essel

    you can always kill your old number or automatically forward it to the google voice one. Like SMTP but the bits are voice and the end address is a phone # instead @gmail.com. Think like the Internet/Web and route around anything you don’t like. Maybe a good product for Twilio?I mentioned before voice calls are for rich people that have time to play golf. That was unfair, voice connection is inherently a good emotional interface for communication. Even though mom may want to talk for hours. Face to face video is even better, and the best is of course in person meetings but they’re also the most expensive for rural folks like me (the price of a meetup in manhattan is one day of work).

  31. William Mougayar

    On 2nd thoughts, is it Google Voice that’s the real impetus for the number porting?

  32. Jason Devitt

    When you port your number from Verizon to AT&T, you cancel your Verizon service. When you port a number from Verizon to Google Voice, you need to keep your Verizon service and get a new phone number from them to forward your Google Voice calls to. In the limit, we’d need to give everyone in the country two phone numbers so that they could hand out one. It’s a nice hack, but it doesn’t scale, we shouldn’t expect carriers to bear the expense of making it easy, and we shouldn’t ask regulators to write a hack into law. The real solution is to move away from phone numbers altogether. Phone numbers should be like IP addresses; I don’t know yours and you probably don’t know it either. You should have an easy to remember ID that resolves to a phone number which no-one ever needs to know. The tech and standards already exist: SIP, ENUM etc. But the switching costs would be enormous, because so many systems and behaviors are tied to phone numbers. When everyone in the world has a smartphone …

    1. JLM

      Brilliant comment! Convergence in action.

    2. Jason

      So, any easy remember ID, like A PHONE NUMBER?

    3. Aaron Klein

      The answer is not to have everyone switch, but to make both possible simultaneously on one global telephone system. (There are some language issues with the user name thing, btw…imagine me trying to dial someone in China.)That being said, put me in the camp of building this on top of e-mail. Everyone has an e-mail address and the same address should be used for routing voice calls to whatever device or devices you prefer.There’s another issue which can be solved, but it’s segmenting the people who get access to a voice call. I have two phone numbers – one is public and ends up in VM 50% of the time. The other rings straight to my cell and very few have it. I like it that way.With a single user name, I suppose I’ll need a “priority inbox” similar to Gmail, although I want specific whitelisting control for “always ring.”

    4. Googler

      My proposed solution:1. Google Voice charges a premium to port calls to counter any costs associated with porting your number ($20 per number?)2. When porting your number on GV’s website, you are presented with a choice of pre-paid SIM cards from different carriers (i.e. AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint, Verizon).3. You choose whichever pre-paid SIM card you prefer and proceed with porting process.4. Google ships you your pre-paid SIM card. Your port request is in process; it will be completed once you receive the SIM card over the mail and activate it so that your ported number can forward calls to it.This not only resolves the cost issue (you simply pay a price to port a number), but it also resolves the issue that Google needs you to have a second phone number to forward your calls before it lets you port your number to them.

      1. Aaron Klein

        I dislike prepaid – I just want a simple, predictable monthly bill.That being said, I’ve often said this would be a great model for Google. If your contract is already up, go to Google Voice, port your number in for FREE as long as you buy new cell service through Google from one of the four carriers.Each of those carriers will pay about $150 to Google for getting them a new contract activation. That would certainly cover the cost of number portability and Google might instantly become the largest wireless reseller in the world.(FYI for disclosure…I know the economics of this only because I sit on the board of wiOps, a software company that helps wireless resellers manage and reconcile their commission revenue from carriers.)

        1. Peter

          Google uses Level3 to provide its phone numbers, so there is no technical reason why they don’t support number porting. It is a business decision. Porting numbers is a complex administrative process and Google does not have the customer support capabilities to handle it.You can have much of what GV could be, but isnt, with Line2. Line2 is currently available for the iPhone and will be on Android phones by the end of the year. It is an app that adds a second line to your smartphone, or turns an iPod touch or iPad into a wifi mobile phone. You can port in you number for free, and its dual-mode, so it works over wifi when its available and cellular when you need it (on iPhones), all using the same number. It also offers live customer support, and no google branding, making it ideal for pro-sumers and business professionals who cant afford to trust their phone line to a free service.Feel free to reach out to me by clicking my name if you have more questions: I’m the founder.

    5. fredwilson

      Hi jasonHow are you?Thanks for stopping byI agree about the endgame but that may take a while.I have a bunch of numbers/Sim cards depending on where I amI want my number I’ve used for almost 20 years hosted somewhere reliable(like google) and then I can use whatever Sim/number in whatever device Iwant

      1. George A.

        “I want my number I’ve used for almost 20 years hosted somewhere reliable(like google) and then I can use whatever Sim/number in whatever device Iwant.”Do you have the support number for google? I have searched for it, but oddly enough…I cannot find it.

      2. Rocky Agrawal

        If you are using a smartphone with a SIP client, your Google Voice number can ring on them. I use fring on my phone and can receive incoming calls over VOIP regardless of which SIM is in the phone. (As long as I have a data plan.)If you use this exclusively, you can forward your existing number to the GV number. Not ideal, but it should work.

      3. Jason Devitt

        You can already do that by porting your number to phone.com or Toktumi. There aren’t any technical barriers, but there is some admin overhead, and that’s what stopping Google from offering the service. If Google can’t automate X, they don’t do X.My point is that I don’t think we should overhaul the telco infrastructure for the sake of porting phone numbers to Google Voice. There are more important things to worry about, and since Google Voice is itself a hack, it would be bad policy.(And I am very well thank you, we should catch up some time.)

  33. Tereza

    Alleluia, Amen.I get no cell signal at my house. So….no texts either.I have tried many different ways to be reached via a single number. Why is this so hard??None is a great solution, most cost money even though they’re not much good.And then I switch from one to another and can’t remember what aspects to switch on or off on ATT, iPhone, the overlay service(s). It’s a big fustercluck.Who is paying attention to my telephonic experience from end-to-end, and optimizing it? No one.

    1. RichardF

      can you install a femtocell Tereza?

      1. Dale Allyn

        That was my thought too, Richard. Even AT&T sells them now. Maybe it would help Tereza, depending on the specifics of her location.

        1. RichardF

          I wasn’t sure what the situation was in the US but they are becoming popular over here in the UK

      2. Tereza

        I could. I’ve been resistant, out of principle, because it’s another $150 on top of what i’m already paying, which is a lot (voice plus data for iPhone and data for iPad), and effectively I’d be subsidizing their requirement to cover me.My husband has an employer-issued T-Mobile Blackberry which has wi-fi enabled data and VOICE. So he is fully accessible at home.When I was signing up for my wifi-enabled iPhone I talked to multiple people at ATT to validate whether their wifi covered voice as well as data. They all said yes! yes! yes! and naturally it does not.I have poured incalculable time and money into it. I did use Phone.com for a time. But I bemoan the fact that I have to pay and that the interaction of the services and devices makes it complicated and none of their customer services people understand it. They don’t take ownership for the integration point and they point you to the other provider.Usually I have to spend 1+ hours educating each customer service person of the ins-and-outs of my issue, before they then tell me an answer I already know (that didn’t work) or something they really don’t understand and is usually wrong. They really just want to get me off the phone.There is a benefit to living in a black hole, which is that I can talk my way out of any cellular service contract. They cannot hold me because all their maps show they do not cover me! And that’s kinda cool.

        1. ShanaC

          My dad has a phentoscell. It’s amazing. Be aware you can prevent people in traffic from getting cell calls if you set it up correcly

    2. baba12

      You are wedded to a device and thus have to bear the consequences of what limitations the carrier may have.In my experience, all the carriers are equal 6 or half a dozen of the other. Unless there is a critical mass of people who challenge the status quo of how a vendor operates we are unlikely going to see a change.You state “Who is paying attention to my telephonic experience from end-to-end, and optimizing it? No one”. If there are any technical challenges they would be solved and have been solved, what is the real challenge is the way most of the challenges you or many others experience is a function of how laws have been written to protect the incumbents. Even after the so called landmark Telecom Act of 1996 things have not really changed much except you have seen some lower prices for per minute calls, but overall carriers have only gained more.If you want things to change you have to make changes to the laws we have and for that we require for our representatives work for us not for the carriers ( try making that happen).Until then my suggestion would be to drop AT&T even if it means giving up a gadget and get yourself something that works. I doubt you would have shoes that are painful to walk even though they look gorgeous.

    3. Peter Sisson

      if you have an iPhone, try Line2. It solves your cell reception problem because it works over WiFi or cellular – so you can use the same number in your house and when you are on the road.

    4. fredwilson

      I am 😉

  34. bfeld

    +1. I’ve wanted this for a long time now. And I’ve pretty much given up and am now handing out my Google voice number as my phone number.

    1. ShanaC

      I’m doing that too, though it’s for a whole slew of reasons. I like the fact that if I have to, I can delete people at will

    2. fredwilson

      OuchI can’t bring myself to do thatI am very attached to my phone numbers and domain names

    3. Jonathan Kay

      Hi Brad…How did your Grasshopper number end up working out? I know you were able to port your number in / out etc…?Hope all is well!Jonathan

  35. Christian Nimsky

    I went through a similar process of wanting to port several months back and gave up, handing out my Gvoice number as my cell similar to what Brad mentioned. Moreover, I’ve found it beneficial to use Gvoice as my “work” cell # while keeping my old Verizon number as my personal cell #. In this setup close family can always reach me in emergencies without me worrying about them getting filtered off by things like Do Not Disturb that may be active in Gvoice.

  36. Eddie Rendini

    Take it easy Fred…its Sunday.I feel your pain though as I would like to port my number over as well. I’m on iPhone and just downloaded GV Mobile+ app last night. Not loving it. When I go to make an outgoing call it has to ring back my iPhone and connect me, as opposed to just making the call directly. I can already do that with the GV web app, so why pay for a native app with the same limitation? Plus GV Mobile+ doesn’t seem to have proper access to the groups feature of iPhone’s built in address book.Remember rotary phones? I sure do…fondly.

  37. ShanaC

    Because the issue is not when you port your number to Google Voice- it is that Google Voice allows you to suddenly port your number to any device in multiple ways.Which is the way I want it. Have you phone calls your way!This however f*** carriers- if the same number is appearing associated with your sip account, your cell phone, your _______, because of google, who claims ownership when there is a problem? Who do you pay fees (and what are you paying for) in the end?

  38. aswath

    Your starting premise that you “own” the phone number is not legally true, just as it is not true for domain names. Literally the phone numbers are “owned” by a carrier (called “donor network”) to whom a block of numbers were allocated. But they are required to assign a number to a “recipient network” if the subscriber in good standing requests so. It is also true that if a subscriber discontinues the service with the recipient network, then the number goes back to the donor network. This then is the first logistic complication encountered by GV: it may potentially have to deal with two carriers.Google Voice is not a carrier by themselves. So they can not directly initiate the portability process. They have to ask their carrier partner in the geographical area to which the number belongs. For it is that partner who can really initiate the process. It is very likely they have multiple partners and each partner may require different procedure from GV. It is very likely that the procedure may require human intervention and not be fully automated. So GV can not describe a universal procedure for all their subscribers. This could be the second logistical difficulty.These may be the reason why GV is not rushing in to offer LNP.Some have raised the question why we are not using DNS like system for LNP. In many respects telephone routing is done very much like domain name routing, but there are some major differences. For example, in the case of DNS, the originating end-point does the DB lookup before using IP address. In the case of telephony,it is the “N-1 network” that does the DB lookup. The other major difference is that the admin function to effect a portability, the affted switches may hvae to be manually entered. The switch may not provide access from remote locations. They are paranoid in that way.T

  39. Colin Crawford

    I have had the same landline number in SF for well over a decade – recently moved to the North Bay – Comcast claimed they could not move between the switches – crazy ! Solution was to transfer the number to Vonage and move to a VOIP service – end result Comcast lost a customer – although to be fair to them I think the issue was a legal one outside their control.Totally support the concept of having ownership over your mobile number – although there are some significant privacy issues passing it over to Google see http://colincrawford.typepa

  40. Hilary

    You would be happy in South Africa where it is law. No mobile carrier can lock the phone either. Now the quirky question for me would be, can I port my Skype in number to Google Voice?Data costs in South Africa are so expensive as to cause 95% of the population to NOT have internet access. Imagine if this was not so…. sigh…. cheap affordable internet access for everyone. If this was the true lay of the land we in South Africa would not be having the fight of our lives for press and personal freedom.

  41. andyswan

    “I don’t understand why that number doesn’t belong to me in every sense of the word.”Well, how much did you pay for it, and who did you buy it from?

  42. Rocky Agrawal

    There may be another reason Google hasn’t offered this: they don’t want to be regulated as a common carrier. Many VOIP services avoid obligations like USF fees, 911 requirements, etc.Google also blocks calls to free conference call lines and other services that arbitrage high rural termination fees. AT&T has asked the FCC to look into this. AT&T tried to block these numbers but were told that they weren’t allowed to.http://www.calliflower.com/

  43. paramendra

    My Google Voice number is my only number these days. I have no other number. It is such relief to walk around not carrying a phone. You smell the roses. You talk to people. You ogle them. You stare at them. You make them uncomfortable. You talk. You listen. You kill time. You look outside.

  44. Dax Davis

    Amen. This has been a long time coming. Hopefully they will speed this up now that more users will be able to use it on their phones.

  45. David Hauser

    There are no technical reasons that Google cannot do this, they have decided that the pain, overhead and manual work required to get this done is not worth it for a free service. It is very hard to ask them to take on all this and give it all way. This is different than email, bandwidth or even storage which they can give away as it has almost no cost, you just cannot do that with manual labor.As many others have suggested there are options available which will allow you to take any number you want to and use PhoneTag and such. At Grasshopper you can get the power of PhoneTag all built into the system with nothing to connect or mess with. The crazy part is we actually charge for the service, support the service and serve hundreds of thousands of entrepreneurs every day.I do not care if you use Grasshopper, a competitor or just stay with Verizon or ATT but I do feel you should be correct in the facts in your post. The FCC and others are not stopping this from happening, Google made a choice and a smart one for a service they give away. Not to mention all the legal issues they are trying to stay away from by keeping the “beta” label on certain things, giving invites and not allowing certain numbers to be dialed.