If you’ve got stock in any company that sells long distance service I would seriously recommend that you sell it immediately. It may take a while to get around that people can get unlimited calls to anywhere in the U.S. for free from your home phone, but this baby is sure to catch on fast.
Google Voice is the latest release from Google Labs, the boys and girls who brought us Gmail, Google Talk and Google Docs. I use these services every day and have been waiting for my invite to try out Google Voice for months. There are so many features that may be useful to you, but I’ll detail the cost cutting ones here.
As far as outgoing calls, the way Google Voice works is you tell it what number to call and tell it to connect you to that number through one of your own phones. Google Voice then calls you and connects you to that number. This may not seem like a big deal, unless you happen to be one of the millions of people who have unlimited incoming call plans, or unlimited calls from numbers in your ‘circle’. As of writing this I have read that Sprint, Alltel, US Cellular and Verizon all have such plans.
Similarly, those with Google Voice that still use landlines are able to call anywhere in the U.S. for free, since they will technically be getting incoming call to connect with whoever they would like to call long distance. For those who have broadband bundle deals, you know that local service has become more of a commodity than anything else, being basically free between your cable and broadband bills. Another way it saves money, if you don’t have unlimited incoming calls, but do have landlines you are nearby for parts of the day, is when people call you you can have Google Voice forward the call to any phone you like. Meaning, for example, that if you’re going to be at your desk at work between 9am and 4pm, you can set it so the calls will be forwarded there so you don’t eat up minutes on your cell.
Other potentially useful features are recording calls, automatic transcription of voice mail into emails and free text messaging. If this is enough for you to want to jump on the Gtrain, then run on over to Google Voice and request an invite. They have been rolling invitations out to early adopter types who signed up months ago, but have been opening the floodgates faster and faster lately.
As for me, I’m going to attempt to text message my girlfriend, who is visiting her folks… overseas.