Google has announced that you can now port your existing mobile phone number to a Google Voice account. Previously, Google Voice (GV) issued new phone numbers for their voice application. Certain features of GV are not available for ported numbers, including call screening and recording.
The move has the potential to heat up GV’s competitive impact (and continue to wrangle AT&T). Giving consumers the ability to port their mobile number, which in effect is there personal number, allows Google to build a very strong telephony relationship directly with consumers. As an example, GV users can set up enhanced voicemail. Voicemail can be sticky service – once it’s set up and working, customers may be hesitant to move away from it.
The FCC is snooping around GV to determine if it’s a telecommunications (versus information) service, subject to common carrier rules. The outcome of that inquiry could impact how aggressive Google moves with GV – it is still in ‘invitation only’ mode. By offering number portability, they are setting the stage to have a profound impact on traditional telecom and traditional telecom carriers.