Google Voice Number Portability Has a Unique Challenge

3147798491-googlevoice_03Now that I have two phones for the first time in my life, I’m itching to heavily rely on Google Voice. But as I said when Google Voice first opened its doors to Grand Central members, the missing number porting is holding me back. You actually can port a Google Voice number, but only from the service, not to the service. Therein lies my issue, as I have one main number and now one secondary number with my recent Palm Pre purchase. Far too many people have my main number for me to change it now.

We’ve heard that number porting to Google Voice is coming soon. While we’re waiting, I’ve been thinking about why we’re waiting. I’m sure there are some FCC hurdles here in the U.S., other legalities that I’m not privy to and some technical challenges as well. But there’s one unique aspect to number portability that just hit me: Google might have to convince carriers to give customers another phone number.

Let’s use my situation to explain that. I have my main number on AT&T with my iPhone. I’ve had that number since I first became a Verizon Wireless customer around the turn of the century. I later ported it to AT&T and it’s the number I want to use as my Google Voice number. That’s an ideal scenario since there’s no transition to the hundreds, maybe even a thousand people, that have my main number. So what happens to my AT&T iPhone when it loses the number? Obviously, AT&T is going to have to provide me a new number; one that I really won’t even use, other than to include it in my Google Voice settings.

We’ve had number portability for a few years now. But when we’ve exercised that right up to now, we’ve generally left a carrier or device behind. That’s not the case with portability and Google Voice. As I mentioned, there are likely several roadblocks for Google to overcome here. Regardless of the reason, I personally can’t wait for it to happen. Forwarding calls from one phone to another works great, but you have to remember to configure it each time you swap handsets.

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