I was finally able to port my cell number to Google Voice during last week’s test period (the porting feature is now open to everyone). Without going into a lot of detail, let me just say that Google Voice is an awesome (and free) service that anyone even remotely interested in using tech to increase ease and efficiency should be using. In fact, I’ll port my last remaining land line as soon as land lines can be ported directly to Google Voice.
First, a little about my porting experience, and then a serious problem that greatly detracts from the all-in Google Voice experience. Anyone from Google Voice who is reading this, feel free to skip to the Sound of Silence section below, where I eloquently describe the problem I desperately want you to fix.
Long and Winding Road
ATT is my cell provider. I am still under contract. When I walked into the local and empty ATT store the other morning, I had a plan. A mighty and logically flawless plan, that initially went nowhere. I told the customer rep that I wanted to port out my cell number to Google Voice, and then port in my second land line to ATT and have that number become my new cell number. In essence, I wanted to swap out phone numbers and keep everything else in-place. Easy peasy.
“Oh, hell no.” Was the gist of the response. To port out my number would require me to cancel my contract and pay a fat early termination fee. I was told I could plead my case to customer service, if I wanted to call the toll free number (611).
So I did. And, at least by ATT standards, it went really well. ATT was very cooperative (I did mention, very nicely, that if I had to pay an early termination fee, I’d surely move all of our lines to Verizon). Without too much difficulty, ATT was on board. I was able to start the port-in process for my land line immediately (you need the number and your account number with the current land line carrier). Porting a land line into ATT Wireless takes 5 days, but once I had the port underway, ATT removed my then current cell number from the contract, so I could port it to Google Voice. That process takes around 24 hours, and is seamless.
Once I confirmed, via the web site ATT provides when you port-in a number, that the port-in of my land line was complete, I stopped back by the local and again empty ATT store and switched out my SIM card. When I got there, the basic ATT account system did not yet show my ported-in number, but we were able to find it once my customer rep called the ATT Porting Department. It took a while to get this all sorted out, but overall it was really easy.
So, finally, I’m ready to experience the full-on Google Voice life. Not so fast.
The Sound of Silence
I ran home, eager to configure my Google Voice account.
When I went to my Google Voice page, my cell number was already in place (you’ll still get calls from your old Google Voice number for 3 months, to help you make the transition), and automatically removed from my list of forwarding phones.
This is when the clouds began to darken.
When I tried to add my new cell number as a forwarding phone (which is mandatory if you actually want to receive calls on your cell phone), Google Voice could not ring my cell phone to verify it (verification via a 2-digit code is part of the configuration process). Nothing happened. I tried teens of times. Then I tried to call my cell number from Google Voice (using another forwarding phone), so I could hear what happens. It rang and rang on the calling end, and then eventually went to something similar to a busy signal.
After much hacking, I was finally able to verify my new cell number by forwarding my cell number via my cell phone (and not via Google Voice) to another number. I tried many variations of this hack before I got one to work.
But even now, when someone calls my Google Voice number, my cell phone does not ring. Silence. Initially, I could not receive text messages via the Messages app on my cell phone (you can always get them via the Google Voice app, but when fully functional, the text messages also show up as native texts in your cell phone text app).
So I called ATT last night. Again, the people I spoke to tried to help. One lady told me she thought it was an LRN issue, as my LRN was from a prior carrier. She fixed it, and said to wait until today and try again (because the changes they make “roll out” into ATT’s system on a staggered basis).
Today I am able to get text messages on my phone. But my cell phone still does not ring when people call my Google Voice number. My other phones and Google Talk ring fine, but not my cell phone.
So I tried again to call my cell phone, using Google Voice and another forwarding phone. After 14 rings on the calling side, my cell phone rings. 14!!! No one is going to wait that long. Equally as troublesome, I never hear the cell phone ring when people call my Google Voice number, presumably because the call goes to voicemail long before that (though, according to many users in the Google Voice forums, it still takes too long to go to voicemail).
I have no idea how to fix this, but it makes Google Voice virtually unusable for me, which is a pity given all the work I’ve done to set it up. And the fact that my cell number is now ported to Google Voice.
Hey Google, can you please shed some light on this, for all of us? You have to answer our call before we can answer yours.