Google Voice Overview
Google Voice is one of the greatest
innovations in telephony. I am a huge fan of it and I have used it to
pretty much nullify my phone bills, or at least drastically reduce them.
Google Voice fixes many of the annoyances that people have with
telephones now, as well as helps to use current communication technology
to connect us at a very low price.
Some of the things I hate
doing is checking my voicemail through the phone system and monitoring
how many text messages or daytime minutes I have left. I particularly
hate not knowing if a call is going to cost me long distance charges or
not. I’ll show you how to use some of Google Voice’s features to reduce
your telephone costs in Canada and in the US including getting free long
distance in Canada (even from your cell phone) and getting a telephone
line at home through VOIP (data).
This post will be about how to set up your Google Voice
account, even when you are not in the US.
Some of my favorite features of Google Voice are:
Free Long Distance calling between US and Canada
Unlimited text messaging
You can check out all the great features of Google Voice here.
Voice is a service that has been designed for people in the US to have
cheaper telephony. As a result, it is not “supported” for use in Canada
and there are some extra steps required to set it up when you are
outside the US.
The steps are as follows:
Ensure you have a US phone number
Ensure you have a US IP address
Set up a Google Voice account at voice.google.com
1. Ensure you have a US phone number
you already have a US phone number where you can receive a phone call
or a text message (not a Google Voice number) then you can skip this
step. If you don’t have a US number, then there are a few different ways
to get one.
My personal suggestion (and the one I will walk you
through getting) is through Voxox. Voxox is a service that will give you
a US based number for free and will forward any calls or texts from
that number to your email or to a Canadian phone number. If you are in
Canada, I suggest getting this service because having it will open up
some of the other features that Google Voice has.
When you set up
Voxox, you will need to ensure that you have either forwarded it to a
phone that you will be able to answer or to an email address that you
will have access to.
Note that it actually doesnt matter what
your Voxox number is. You are not going to be giving this number to
anyone other than Google Voice. The only reason you are getting this
number is to make your foreign (Canadian) phone number look like a US
number. You will ultimately give out your Google Voice number to your
friends and family (see the third step)
Go to www.voxox.com
Sign up for a new account
Verify your email address
Verify a cell phone through text messaging / SMS
I have not been able to set up a phone using the web interface so the
only way I have been able to do this is through the desktop
Download and install the desktop software
There are options for Canadian numbers, but make sure to choose a US number (the State doesn’t matter)
Select a free US number
Send all calls to your cell phone
Turn off the voicemail and other general settings
Turn off text message forwarding
2. Ensure you have a US IP address
set up a Google Voice account, Google needs to think you are physically
in the US. You can check the IP address you are using by going to
http://www.iplocation.net/. If the country is United States, you can
skip this step. If you are not in the US and need to trick Google into
thinking that you are, you can use many services, including private VPN
services and IP blockers. The one that I will walk you through is
HotSpotShield, which is a free download available here and will give you
a US IP address.
See the screenshots for a walkthrough on the steps you need to take to set this up.
Check your IP location
If it is not United States, you will need HotSpotShield
Download and install HotSpotShield
Choose the appropriate settings
Confirm your IP location is United States
3. Set up your Google Voice account at voice.google.com
can set up a new Google account or tie it to an existing Google (gmail)
account. Once you have logged in to your Google account and navigated
to voice.google.com, you will be directed to accept the terms and
conditions and then verify your phone number. The phone number that you
verify will have to be the US based number that you set up in step 1.
you have verified your phone number, you will be prompted to choose
your Google Voice number. Most people likely won’t care what area code
they get and if you don’t then I suggest choosing a number that spells
out your name or matches the last 4 of your current phone number or is
somehow easy to remember or is just a lot of fun.
Pointer – Select your phone number type as Home number. This way texts
sent to your Google Voice number will come to your cell phone via the
app (data) instead of via text message. Your replies to text messages
sent from your phone will show your cell number, while messages sent
from the app will show your Google Voice number.
NOTE: I was unable to get this to work using Google Chrome. I strongly suggest using Firefox or Internet Explorer for this piece
From a US IP Address (see step 2), go to voice.google.com
Sign in to your Google (gmail) account, or sign up for a new one
Get a new Google Voice number
Verify your number by giving a US phone number
Your US phone number will be the Voxox number that was set up in step 1
Select type as a Home number
Select a number you like
You now have a US based phone number and more importantly, access to
all the features of Google Voice. The whole process should take you
about 10 minutes. Without any changes, any calls to your Google Voice
number will ring on your cell phone.
Get a US phone number from Voxox
Get a US IP address using HotSpotShield
Sign up for and verify your account at voice.google.com
up your Google Voice account now and in the next post I’ll show you how
to use Google Voice to get free long distance on your cell phone.