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Google Businesses The Internet Communications

Google Voice Grabs 1 Million Phone Numbers 198

Posted by kdawson
from the is-this-the-party-to-whom-I-am-speaking dept.
alphadogg writes "Google has reserved 1 million phone numbers with Level 3, signaling that it may finally be ready to roll out its long-anticipated Google Voice service. The free service, announced in March, lets users unify their phone numbers, allowing them to have a single number through Google Voice that rings a call through to all their phones. Sources could not say when the 1 million numbers may be assigned. Level 3 has been supplying Google with phone numbers since the introduction of Google Voice, so the 1 million numbers are an indication Google is close to adding a significant number of users. A public launch has been anticipated since Google said in March the service would be 'open to new users soon.' One early user said: 'I've only been using Google Voice for a few months, but it's completely changed the way I use voicemail and communicate... When it goes public, I think the rush to grab Google Voice numbers is going to be stunning. I know some of my friends check the Google Voice page almost every day to see when they can grab a number and get started using it.'"
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Google Voice Grabs 1 Million Phone Numbers

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  • I wonder.... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Jaysyn (203771) <jaysyn+slashdot&gmail,com> on Friday June 19, 2009 @11:39AM (#28391543) Homepage Journal

    ... how long it will be before we see a civil or criminal suit arising from a competitor, user or law-enforcement looking for a user.

  • I'm waiting.... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Laebshade (643478) <laebshade@gmail.com> on Friday June 19, 2009 @11:46AM (#28391633)

    for this for my G1. I'm surprised this wasn't included, even though it's in closed beta. PF Voicemail Fusion works ok, but youmail is horrible for the G1. Google Voice already has an android app, so I can't wait!

    • Re:I'm waiting.... (Score:4, Interesting)

      by AntiRush (1175479) on Friday June 19, 2009 @12:28PM (#28392207) Homepage
      I have a google voice account (transferred over from grandcentral) and in general I didn't find the GV android app to be all that usable. The extra overhead ended up making me miss a lot of calls that I wouldn't otherwise have. Another problem was that dialing out either involved using the GV application which dials your Google Voice number and places the call via their system or making calls from your real number. The former put a 10 - 15 second overhead on making a call and the latter tends to confuse people because they are receiving a call from a different number than the one they (were told to) call.

      I ended up giving my real number to anyone that mattered. I still use my Google Voice number for anything online or calls/text messages that I potentially want to screen. It's a great service but it didn't work for me as an every day number.

      • Re:I'm waiting.... (Score:5, Informative)

        by Evan Charlton (1498823) <slash.evancharlton@com> on Friday June 19, 2009 @12:34PM (#28392313) Homepage
        Disclaimer: I wrote the GV Android app in question.

        I didn't find the GV android app to be all that usable. The extra overhead ended up making me miss a lot of calls that I wouldn't otherwise have. Another problem was that dialing out either involved using the GV application which dials your Google Voice number and places the call via their system or making calls from your real number. The former put a 10 - 15 second overhead on making a call and the latter tends to confuse people because they are receiving a call from a different number than the one they (were told to) call.

        If you haven't tried the latest version, I recommend you do so; it makes the dialing process much more seamless. If you still have problems with, don't hesitate to shoot me an email: gv {at} evancharlton {dot} com (that goes for anyone else that has questions or suggestions).

        • by salesgeek (263995)

          Evan - My first impression was the same as Antirush, and suddenly the GV app has been fantastic for the last four or five updates. Great work.

          On the confusion - it would be nice to be able to set GV to set rules like use carrier for domestic calls and GV for overseas as GV voice rates are expensive for domestic calls if you have long distance included on your cell plan.

          GV is great and T-Mobile doesn't have 3G where I live. Thanks for filling in the gap on the G-1. Your app is going to be huge as the new p

        • by pipingguy (566974) *
          Cool. The actual author of an app shows up. I like that.
    • Re:I'm waiting.... (Score:5, Informative)

      by Evan Charlton (1498823) <slash.evancharlton@com> on Friday June 19, 2009 @12:40PM (#28392393) Homepage
      Just a heads up: the current Android client (found here: http://www.cyrket.com/package/com.evancharlton.googlevoice [cyrket.com]) is *not* official in any way, shape or form.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by vaporland (713337)
        For what it's worth, T-Mobile lets me change the default voice mail phone number on my BlackBerry. I changed it to my Google Voice number from the crappy t-Mobile voice mailbox.

        It's fantastic. I now have instant junk call filtering - I just send to voice on my cellphone and the caller get the disconnect signal after a ring or two.

        My friends all get custom greetings before leaving voice mail, and I receive an email as soon as they do. Also, I can play back my messages in the order I want without using a
  • It seems to me that the same people that would be all for a techy solution like this are the very same people who are unlikely to even own a landline. Nearly universally, everyone who I know in their mid 20s - early 30s don't have a landline and have only one number - their cellphone.

    I can see a market for this for intense businessmen who might have 2 lines at home, a private line at work, and another line at their second home. But is there a demand from the tech savy young google user?

    • by jackspenn (682188) on Friday June 19, 2009 @12:16PM (#28392037)

      Nearly universally, everyone who I know in their mid 20s - early 30s don't have a landline

      The same used be be true for me, but now my parents, aunts and uncles, former teachers, etc. have all switched. I would say that nearly every person I know 15-62 have switched solely to cell phones in place of home phones. The two people I know with a home phone, my grandfather (85) and grandmother (82) switched to Vonage over two years ago to the complete surprise of the entire family. Reason they gave "It's a fixed monthly cost that works for what they need."
      I really think the traditional home phone line could be dead in a decade or so.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Jason Levine (196982)

      Even if you only have one line, you might like to use this. If a business asks for your phone number, you could give them the Google Talk number. Then, if they abuse it, you simply tell Google Talk to either always push them to voice mail or (better yet) to play the "this line is disconnected" message.

    • Actually, NPR had a piece yesterday about how the number of people with only cell phones (no landlines) just surpassed the number with landlines in the US. However, "Jason Levine" is right that even people with only one phone might find this useful. Personally, since moving to Chicago from upstate NY I haven't changed my area code (I save a lot of money by staying on my parents "Friends and Family plan" and would want to give up my phone number even if I could). However, if I decide I want to submit res

      • by WMD_88 (843388)
        Don't you put your address on your resume too? That would solve the out-of-state issue.
    • by TarrVetus (597895)

      I can see a market for this for intense businessmen who might have 2 lines at home, a private line at work, and another line at their second home. But is there a demand from the tech savy young google user?

      Absolutely.

      I have one phone, and it's my cell phone. I don't have an unlimited calling/ unlimited text messaging service for my phone, and I cannot justify paying for it right now. In the last month, however, I've had a spike in my call volume--instead of using less than 300 minutes, I'm moving upward to 500 or so, and they're from many different numbers.

      With Google Voice, I can give out one number and have it ring to my cell phone, and a cheap temporary service on my computer, such as Skype. If I am a

    • by Patch86 (1465427)

      If only.

      Where I live (UK) a working phone line is the prerequisite for a broadband package, whether it be over BT's ADSL network or Virgin's fibre-optic cable network. I get a working phone line and phone number whether I want it or not, as long as I want internet access.

      Of course I could choose to not plug a handset into it and never give out the number, but I still do own a landline. As local call rates tend to be cheaper over landline than mobile, plugging a cheap handset in seems like a sensible idea fo

  • by rodrigoandrade (713371) on Friday June 19, 2009 @11:48AM (#28391671)
    Now telemarketers, religious freaks, and campaign-donation guys will be able to find me no matter where I am.

    I wonder if we'll be able to register that line on the DNC list.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by ratnerstar (609443)

      I imagine you could, but political campaigns and charities can ignore the DNC list anyway. More importantly, Google Voice gives you a lot more control over screening your calls before you answer them.

    • by bennomatic (691188) on Friday June 19, 2009 @11:59AM (#28391837) Homepage
      I've already registered mine on the DNC list, but additionally, you can also do fun things like push all unknown callers directly to voice mail. Then you can quickly review and delete your VM's on their web site.
      • by idiotnot (302133)

        I've already registered mine on the DNC list

        Yeah, so have I, both of them. Got three different calls telling me I needed to go vote for Barack Obama in November. The third one I slipped through my asterisk-fu.

        "We hope you'll go out and vote today!"
        "I already did this morning. For Senator McCain."
        "Oh." (long pause) "Have a nice day, then, I guess."

        There's only so much you can do, and reporting the non-profits and/or pols doesn't do much good.

        • How naive. You actually assumed political parties would be subject to the DNC list?

          Not quite. Let's not blame Obama here, it had nothing to do with him, specifically.

          When crafting DNC legislation, political parties and PACs got a nice little exemption, gotta make sure they can still do what they want.

    • by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Friday June 19, 2009 @12:04PM (#28391901)

      Now telemarketers, religious freaks, and campaign-donation guys will be able to find me no matter where I am.

      I am a Google voice user.
      Zero automated telemarketing calls get through to me. The system defaults to requiring callers with previously unseen caller-id's to state their name before it will even ring my real phone(s). No automated system knows how to do that so far.

      Even if a real person calls and does get past the name prompt, I can "answer" the phone by sending the call to voice-mail and listening in, the way you can with a real physical answering machine.

      I am also able to blacklist specific caller-id numbers to either go directly to voice-mail or to play the "this number has been disconnected" recording and tone pattern.

      Worst case, I can also configure all unknown caller-id numbers to go directly to voice-mail too.

      Since signing up with GrandCentral a year or two ago (the predecessor company that google purchased) my annoying call rate has gone to zero.

      • I am a Google voice user. Zero automated telemarketing calls get through to me. The system defaults to requiring callers with previously unseen caller-id's to state their name before it will even ring my real phone(s). No automated system knows how to do that so far.

        You mean... Google is...alive?!?

      • Here's the problem: how do you keep the unwanted callers from calling your private numbers?
      • by slapout (93640)

        But how will you ever find out that your car warranty is about to expire?!

      • by shentino (1139071)
        A pity that some callers spoof their ID
      • by FleaPlus (6935)

        Worst case, I can also configure all unknown caller-id numbers to go directly to voice-mail too.

        This was incredibly handy recently when I was moving and made the mistake of using one of those services which automatically requests quotes from several different moving companies at once. Several of these companies were calling me daily to try to get me to use their service. Fortunately, I had just given my Google Voice number instead of my cell (I don't have a landline), so all the calls from unknown callers went straight to voicemail. On top of that, Google Voice automatically transcribed all the voice

    • Of course, the whole point is that you get to decide which of your contacts can reach you at which phone. You can make it so that if they're not in your contact list, they get voice mail only.

      You can also screen callers (they state their name to a recording) based on whether they are in your contact list or whether they are blocking caller ID.

    • by religious freak (1005821) on Friday June 19, 2009 @12:35PM (#28392321)

      Now telemarketers, religious freaks, and campaign-donation guys will be able to find me no matter where I am.

      Hey!

  • by mpapet (761907) on Friday June 19, 2009 @11:49AM (#28391693) Homepage

    Queue Dr. Evil '1 million phone numbers... MMUUUAAHAHAHAHAHAAHAHAHAHAH!'

    It certainly sounds like a big number, but it isn't. What I am wondering is what the Telco execs are doing about it.

    A little history for ./ The telco's stuck it to Vonage two different ways.
    1. whisper campaign in the equity markets claiming Vonage didn't own the value-drivers in their business. 100% bunk. Amazon doesn't own the 'tubes' that connect to their service, has fantastical valuations. With Vonage, it *is* a very big problem??? But equity manager ran with it and hammered Vonage.
    2. Patent litigation. Especially bad and ridiculously obvious patents were used to extract the Telco's vig. (hint, look up the word vigorish)

    Google's much more well-capitalized and swimming in the deep end of Telco waters if they attempt to unify POTS/wireless with VOIP. When will Telco exec's send the legal dogs after Google?

    • by cdrguru (88047) on Friday June 19, 2009 @12:25PM (#28392181) Homepage

      Whisper campaign? Well, let's see. If the end-game for Vonage is to replace the existing hardwired telephone service there is one little problem - they need the wires to be maintained for their customer's DSL links. Nobody really believes that the wireline maintenance is going to be covered by the revenue generated by selling naked DSL service.

      The end result of this is Vonage can be a bit player off to the side but should they "succeed" they really fail. Not a good overall strategy. Yes, I guess you could say they don't own the value-drivers. More importantly, they desperately need their competition in order to survive. And their competition has to be both doing well enough to support their business and make it possible for them to compete.

      Worse yet for Vonage and their ilk is that the government has mandated the wireline telephone companies have to provide for data services and bulk-purchased voice services to be priced below real costs. As long as these services are provided to a few players and the main part of the telco revenue is still providing telephone service everything will be fine. But, again, should Vonage or any of their sort really "succeed", they fail.

      Would the right answer be to forcibly separate the wireline facilities from the telco voice providers? Sure, except under current rules no wireline facility could operate because the services that are sold today to outside companies are done so at a loss. There are a lot of wires out there and the maintenance of this is quite costly. Today that bill is paid for by voice services, mostly for business customers that have entirely different billing arrangements than residential customers do.

      So pulling the facilities management away from the telcos would simply require the data and bulk services to be sold at real prices. So the $14.99 DSL service would be more like $99. At today's pricing it makes sense for an individual to drop their $25 telephone and $15 DSL to something like $15 DSL and Magic Jack at $20 a year. If the DSL service was priced including wireline maintenance costs, it wouildn't be practical at all. The real problem there would be lost of people can't afford $1200 a year for Internet and would drop it. Loss of market share like this would cripple plenty of things and would change the landscape of Internet service providers in the US.

      What is the real answer? I suspect it is to abandon wireline maintenance completely and replace it with new fiber optic links from a completely new company. In about 50 years. In the meantime, we will have the existing wires in the ground and on the poles until they need repair. And with nobody repairing it, people will just do without wired connections.

      • You're tossing around big numbers as the "real cost" when they don't make sense. If the telcos can maintain the copper for a landline, rent it for 25$ a month and turn a profit, there is NO CHANCE IN HELL that killing the landline business will make the copper suddenly cost 100$ a month.

        Vonage is selling a service that requires another service sold by someone else to work, you're right on that. I counter that there is no business problem with that: I can name you two businesses that work splendidly th

      • by shentino (1139071)
        Except that my ISP charges a 10 dollar a month surcharge for having just internet.
  • "I know some of my friends check the Google Voice page almost every day to see when they can grab a number and get started using it."

    And I have friends who have never heard of Google Voice and completely lack the technical understanding to want to use it. I hate it when people use anecdotal evidence to suggest how great or grand something is going to be.

    Most of my friends actually have just one phone (their cell) to their name anyway. While I see some of the features being semi-useful for a single-phone use

    • My office is situated such that I can only get cell phone signal if I'm standing at the window. I've got my GVoice set up to send all calls to my office phone during the day, and to both home and cell phone in the evenings and weekends.

      There are a lot of reasons why one might want to take calls directly on a different line than their cell phone.
      • by quangdog (1002624)
        Is there a way automate this using the bluetooth settings on your phone and computer at the office, such that when your phone is in range, google forwards calls to your office phone, and when your phone is out of range, google forwards calls to your cell?

        I have sometimes thought that such a service would be handy (and, in fact, I know someone who uses one) but he has to manually tell the service where he is all the time. Granted, it's a quick process, but it's one more thing to think about. Sometimes h
        • Well, considering there are a number of apps written to control GVoice accounts, I'd be willing to bet that this could be done. I think they publish the web API, so if you are or if you know someone who is handy with the codestuffs, you could probably write a GVoice gadget to do just that.
  • by Anonymous Monkey (795756) on Friday June 19, 2009 @11:53AM (#28391755)
    I only give my mobile number out sparingly. I tell most people to call my land line. I do this because I don't want to be accessible to every one all the time. Most calls can wait. If I had this service it would mean more relatives calling me up while driving to tell me to go on line and look at some random news story. Right now, I think I'll stick with having two numbers.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Actually, you can flag numbers to direct straight to voice mail. Which then gets transcibed into and email. The service gives you some pretty good controls over handling calls and routing, based on factors like time, caller and your availability.

      In your case, you can give out the number freely and only forward people in your "Friends" group to you cell phone.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by bennomatic (691188)
      That's the cool thing. You can set up profiles and automatically direct some people to only a specific phone, or right into voice mail. You can even set up personalized ring-back tones and VM outgoing messages so that if your father calls you, the VM says, "Hi Dad, sorry you didn't make it past the screen!"
  • Abuse (Score:3, Interesting)

    by symes (835608) on Friday June 19, 2009 @11:53AM (#28391761) Journal
    How do they prevent abuse? Say unifying Pizza Express with someone's landline - or Sarah Palin with PETA... and so on
    • by PPH (736903)

      I imagine it involves some process where you have to 'enroll' each physical number in to the service by dialing in from that location. If you can't get to Palin's line, for example, you can't mess with it. Existing call forwarding schemes use some version of this.

    • I'm sure they have a verification step just like many other services. Just a guess, but they probably place a call to the number you want to register and you have to key in a code that they have given to you to prove that you are in control of the phone number in question.

      • If I recall correctly from when I signed up to GrandCentral (Google Voice's predecessor), signing up a number meant that Google would call that number. You would then need to approve the addition by typing in a code.

        In fact, I just stopped by Google Voice's help pages and that's exactly what they do:

        Signing up: Verifying the new phones you're forwarding to
        Print
        When you add a new phone number to the Phones tab of your Google Voice Settings, you will need to verify the number for security and abuse preventio

    • by argiedot (1035754)
      The obvious way. Have you ever used Google Calendar's SMS notifications? To enable them, you are sent a code to the number that you registered. The code then has to be entered on the Google page within a certain amount of time.
  • by bennomatic (691188) on Friday June 19, 2009 @11:53AM (#28391769) Homepage
    Oh yeah, it's 867-530-niiiiiii-eeee-iii-een.
  • If Google has a number shortage, it's kind of odd that they don't let people transfer their existing numbers to Google Voice. That would probably free up a lot of the numbers they already have.

    I have a Google Voice number, and if I could transfer my existing number into it, I would do so.

    • Yes, but how does Google Voice then call the number (your cell) it just took from your cell?
      • by nedlohs (1335013)

        Lots of people know your current number but you want to switch to using google voice.

        It would be simpler in terms of not having to get everyone to use a new number to get a new number for your actual phone (cell, land line, VoIP, whatever - the one everyone has) and give the number everyone has to google to use as the google voice entry point.

    • by blindd0t (855876)

      From TFA:

      Last week, TechCrunch reported that Google would add number portability later this year to Google Voice, which would let users keep one of their existing phone numbers as their Google Voice number. For example, users could make their cell phone number their Google Voice number.

      • by tgd (2822)

        GrandCentral and Google have been saying that for years.

        I'll believe it when I see it.

        (I've been waiting for porting since I got my Grand Central account)

      • by jipn4 (1367823)

        Yes, but... they have been saying that for a while, so I wouldn't hold my breath.

        The question is: why is it taking them so long? That seems like a pretty straightforward feature, in particular since they already handle outbound number transfers.

        • The question is: why is it taking them so long? That seems like a pretty straightforward feature, in particular since they already handle outbound number transfers.

          Outbound is easier, given what Google Voice does. For an outbound transfer, they just have to give someone else control of the number. For an inbound transfer to work, they still need a way to get to the phone that was previously covered by that number when actually using the number links back to Google Voice. To do that, it would seem that eithe

  • "Call Record - Record calls and store them online"

    In a lot of places, both parties must be notified if the call is being recorded. I wonder what controls they put in place for this.
  • Will they just text you the ads?
  • by altek (119814) on Friday June 19, 2009 @01:10PM (#28392815) Homepage

    Just curious, if you are using a Google Voice number as your "one number to rule them all", and the service is down, what happens? Even if it goes down temporarily (as Gmail does constantly, ahem) does that mean incoming calls cant get to you?

    Also, since Google is obviously able to hijack the voice audio, what's to say they aren't listening to / recording calls? I realize they "aren't evil" but, still.

    I like the concept of this service, but don't want to have my incoming calls relying on Google's service to make it through.

    • by kyz (225372)

      Just curious, if you are using a Google Voice number as your "one number to rule them all", and the service is down, what happens? Even if it goes down temporarily (as Gmail does constantly, ahem) does that mean incoming calls cant get to you?

      It's likely that the same thing happens as when a regular phone service goes down. The caller hears a tone telling them the call couldn't be routed and they can decide if they want to call you later.

      Currently, you have no evidence to say Google will be any better or worse than a regular phone carrier on the PSTN, most of whom regularly manage 99.999% uptime (due to large capital expenditure on redundant hardware - something that Google can definitely afford).

      Also, since Google is obviously able to hijack the voice audio, what's to say they aren't listening to / recording calls? I realize they "aren't evil" but, still.

      I like the concept of this service, but don't want to have my incoming calls relying on Google's service to make it through.

      All existing phone companies can have downtime an

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by altek (119814)

        Not sure where the bad attitude is coming from, I never suggested that these things *do* happen, just asking about the potential for them to happen. And my first question was just that, a question, if it absolutely relies on google's service to route your call through.

        Additionally, it introduces ANOTHER variable of service into the mix. Now I rely on my telco to work, with this, I rely on my telco AND Google to work.

        And Google's track record with gmail being up and down in my own personal experience is no

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 19, 2009 @03:18PM (#28395009)

    They own your primary e-mail address, route your telephone conversations, facilitate your mailing list, keep track of your calendar, engineer your cell phone platform, access maps for you, host your videos, and answer any question you could have about anything through their search engine.

    First question: Do you really think they are funded by ad revenue? How many ads have you clicked on since you started surfing the web?

    Second question: What is more profitable, providing free web services, or selling personal data they have been harvesting for years, many times tied to an IP, MAC, Username, and the identity created by the consistencies of your browsing habits?

  • by db32 (862117)
    I am so happy! I can have Google Email, Google Android, and Google Voice, Google Docs, and Google Search! Maybe we can have Google Credit and Google Medical soon so Google can have ALL of my information at a touch of a button!

    http://blogoscoped.com/archive/2007-09-17-n72.html [blogoscoped.com]

    Why is it that so many people cheer the arrival of the next Google service and then in the same breath mutter about privacy and invasive government. So what happens when the federal government owns 60% of Google? I mean...the l

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