began a yesterday. They are sending out invitations to a select few. Others can . No word on when Google will open the service to anyone. The Google Voice (GV) experiment is an interesting one. At its core, GV is disrupting the very nature of telephone numbers.

Historically, telephone numbers have been associated with locations – your home, work, and a cell phone(if your old enough to remember, cell phones started out as ‘location’ numbers too – we called it a car phone). Most adults have multiple location numbers associated with themselves.

What GV disrupts is replacing those multiple numbers with a single telephone number. It may represent the first legitimate mainstream assignment of a single number to a person, conceivably providing that number for life. Behind the scenes, you can program that single number to synchronize with all your legacy ‘location’ phone numbers, which may change over time. Think of it as your ‘digital’ social security number.

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There are some wrinkles to this approach. For example, how will companies deal with this issue – will they allow employees to list their GV number on a business card or email signature line, or will they mandate only official company business numbers can be used? What about traditional phone company directories, both print and online? Will GV make them even more irrelevant? Most importantly, consider the telemarketing hell that could come from your GV number ending up in all those databases. Can your GV number get placed on the list?

In some regards, location telephone numbers were on their way out even before GV. Contact databases on wireless phones and office productivity software are more apt to identify and connect by names, not telephone numbers. The GV premise only accelerates this ongoing trend. It’s too early to predict GV’s true impact. As a product, it may have little impact – time will tell. One could argue that Google has a shotgun approach with Internet apps – they’re all over the map hoping something will stick. GV could easily lose favor and become low on the totem pole in Google’s march to rule the Internet. But if nothing else, GV is a potential leading indicator of the future of phone numbers, where people get assigned a single number for life. Sound familiar?

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7 thoughts on “Google Voice: Your New Social Security Number?

  1. not sure i view gv as a threat to telecom. they are not really impacting traffic or shifting it off net. they’re just doing some interesting call routing. i guess we’ll have to see how gv calls impact things like phantom traffic – will gv calls come through the tandem as regular identified traffic?

  2. Time to get rid of the antiquated and monopoly-serving numbering system that is still based on a geographic location. We are using the technology that routes numbers by service provider rather than location now. The FCC needs to stop serving the needs of the old technology companies and start serving the needs of telecommunications customers by getting rid of geographic-based numbers.

  3. Shouldn’t impact 911 at all, at least as currently implemented. GV only affects inbound calls and doesn’t impact 911 records, etc. Being that 911 is an outbound service, it will work as normal, regardless of what GV app is associated with that number.

  4. I can be reached at (919) 816-2827 if anyone wants to be processed by Google Voice 😉

    The results aren’t always exactly right but the pricing race to zero has begun:

    This has come a long way from the GrandCentral beta days. I’m not giving up my Asterisk server just yet though. If they ever open up SIP trunking for O/T and API then things will get interesting. Pair that up with a VoiceXML and Google AppEngine and things get more interesting. Carrier grade? Maybe not but still interesting.

  5. For now, rather than replacing all my phone numbers on my email signature line, I’m adding my GV number. People who know what it is can dial it. People who don’t, can dial my legacy numbers. (this is just as much for me as it is for them, until I decide that I can trust this thing!).

    My open questions:

    – Can my GV number forward to my mobile (which has a US phone number) if I am traveling internationally?

    – How about conference calls – any restrictions to adding an international call into a GV call, to make it a conference call? What if the int’l call is an incoming call?

    – What if I leave the office and forget to forward my GV calls to my mobile? If I want to change the handset that my incoming GV calls come into, but I don’t have a Web browser handy, is there some other way to do it?

  6. I JUST USE CALLING CARDS TO MODERATE MY PHONE BILL THAT WAY I'M ONLY PAYING TWICE ONCE WHEN I BUY THE CARD I GET 3 CENTS A MINUTE WHAT DO YOU PAY AND ONE THE RECEIVING END IF CELL PHONE VERIZON COLLECTS TWICE THAT SHOULD BE ILLEAGLE WHERE MY REFUND FOR THE LAST TWO YEARS. GOOGLE VOICE SOUNDS COOL I'M GLAD WE HAVE SMART YOUNG WHIPPER SNAPPERS WORKING ON APPLICATIONS THAT MY POSSIBLE BE OF SOME PRACTICLE USE. SAY A PHONE WHERE YOU CAN MAKE CALLS USING A CALLING CARD AND NOT GET BILLED TWICE~~

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