I don’t write about technology, but every rule has exceptions. If you haven’t looked at Google Voice (“GV”) yet, check it out and sign up for a number or perhaps you can arrange to have a friend send you an invitation to a free account.
GV gives you a local phone number that you give out to your friends and clients. On the GV website, you enter in your work, home and mobile numbers and tell GV which of these and when you want your GV calls forwarded. Then you stop giving out your other phone numbers and everyone just needs to know one number to reach you anywhere and anytime.
GV also has a voicemail feature that transcribes your messages and emails or texts them to you. There are numerous other features that might interest you, but other phone systems have these too.
What makes GV so interesting is that you are not charged for calls or SMS messages within the US. Overseas calls are inexpensive (Europe is currently 3 cents a minute) and if you call an overseas mobile phone the current charge is 19 cents a minute.
The way GV works is that when you place a call, GV calls you and then connects you to the number that you called. That means that you don’t need the phone features of your telephone because you don’t dial the call.
My contacts are on my lap top in MS Outlook and I have a docking station at home and at the office. (When my computer is not connected to the Internet, my contacts are available on my iPhone, so don’t worry about my not being able to call you.) I use Go Contact Sync for free to make sure that my MS Outlook contacts are always synched with my GV contacts. I keep Google Chrome open on my computer (GV runs best on Google’s browser -- go figure) and with two clicks I can place a call to any of my contacts (or I can type in a number if someone is not yet listed as a contact.)
After I click on the number I want to call, GV calls the phone I have set it to (office, home or mobile) and after I pick up, GV connects me to the party with whom I wish to speak. It’s that easy and at no cost to me whatsoever.
Now about that office phone. My landlord provides a high speed internet hook up in my office. I plugged a router into the ethernet outlet so that I can get two IP addresses, one for my computer and one to which I have plugged in a VOIP adapter. I am using a Linksys PAP2-NA which costs around $45. I have a normal desk phone plugged into the adapter. To activate my VOIP phone, I signed up for free with Sipgate. They gave me a phone number that I set up to connect to the IP address of the VOIP adapter and then typed the Sipgate phone number into GV as my office line. I can’t dial a call from my office line since I don’t have a telephone provider, but then I don’t need to because GV calls my office line when I place a call.
I invite your comments to this blog post and look forward to posting another missive in the near future.
John A. Myer is a corporate and securities lawyer with Myer Law PLLC in Seattle, Washington. This posting does not constitute legal advice.