Moving My Phone Number to The Cloud with Google Voice

St Thomas
Recently, I was sitting in a cafe in St Thomas and I was very frustrated to learn that even though I could browse the internet on their fast, free wifi, I was not able to call or text without spending huge amounts of money because I was outside the continental US. This struck me as insane since St Thomas is a US territory, and my phone supports wifi calling. I was determined to solve this problem when I returned home.

I landed on Google Voice as a great, mostly free solution to this and many other issues I had with the classic phone plan scenario.

Moving my number from T-Mobile to Google Voice cost me a one-time fee of $20. I was surprised when the process completed, and I received a text; the notification sound came not just from my phone, but also my laptop and desktop. I had not even considered the fact that my phone number was now accessible from any internet-connected device. I soon discovered I could not only send and receive texts, but even make and receive phone calls on any of my Android, Windows or Chrome devices.

I knew immediately that my relationship with connectedness was already different.

I have looked for a long time for a great tool that lets me send and receive my texts from a web browser, and there are lots of options. I had always used Mighty Text. The problem that all of these tools share is that they are extensions of the phone and not of the phone number. Your phone has to be on, with reception and a phone plan in order for them to work.

Google Voice provides a direct connection to my phone number from any web browser, regardless of the status of my cell phone. My phone can be off, broken, or overdue and I am totally unaffected. I can use any of my devices to call or text whenever I want. And I find that the interface I use most is the new hangouts web app. This beautiful interface provides exactly what was missing from the kind of experience I want to have with texting and with my phone number.

tmobile
I even did an experiment and turned off my mobile data for a week in Portland, Oregon; relying only on free public wifi for all my calls and texts. The only problem was when I was on transit, no wifi. I ended up keeping my unlimited data plan with T-Mobile, but I managed to get it down to just $10/month.

I cover the story of how I did that in another post.

How I Got a Free $180 Asus RT-AC68U Router

Last year, I switched to T-Mobile; a choice which has come with lots of perks. One of them was that they gave me a free router. This router supports the 802.11ac standard which means it forms very good connections to devices because of new nanotech in the antennas that allow “beam-forming” to focus the energy of the antenna towards only the devices it is connected to. Giving me a nice router benefits T-Mobile because my phone supports wifi-calling which decreases the load on their network.

I actually ended up porting my number to Google Voice which means I have unlimited free wifi texting as well as calling now, but that’s covered in another post.

asus_rt-ac68u
RT-AC68U

If you have T-Mobile, ask if you can get a free router too.