I’m telecommuting this week and next and forced to use my own phone line for all of my business-related calls. My cell phone plan includes only 550 minutes of airtime per month. My Vonage line, which I took with me, includes just 500. So why aren’t I sweating about using up all of my minutes?
Two words: Google Voice. My main draw to GrandCentral before it was changed to Google Voice was having one number to ring all of my various phones. I never really used most of the online features since many of the more common ones were things I had already been doing with a cell phone or our Vonage home phone. One of the nicer ones, though, is the ability to make calls straight from the web interface, something Vonage hasn’t quite grasped yet.
And that’s when the implications of this hit me. While I can only place 500 minutes worth of outgoing calls on my Vonage line, I had unlimited incoming calls. And when I place a call from Google Voice’s web interface, it calls me. Suddenly, I figured out that my limited Vonage line was actually an unlimited line thanks to a hack using Google Voice. And the price for this setup? A measly $20 a month with all of the taxes, at least $12/mo less than Vonage’s own unlimited plan.
It’s not just Vonage users either. Sprint has a $50/mo plan that includes unlimited incoming calls. For $0.03/KB, you can access Google Voice’s mobile site to place calls or do it for free if you’re near a PC. Congratulations, you just came up with an unlimited calling plan for half the cost of Simply Everything.
I picked Vonage and Spring because I know the examples, but pretty much any provider offering unlimited incoming calls can be hit with the same thing. That’s something that should have providers running scared and may explain the plethora of unlimited mobile voice options starting to hit the street. It’s not as simple as pick up and dial, but the determined will find a way around that sooner or later.
Providers would love nothing more than to entirely block out Google Voice numbers from dialing in. That’s not only illegal, it’s likely to cause a firestorm of criticism from users. The genie is out of the bottle. Are you ready for it?