Of Course AT&T Doesn’t Want Google Voice

I’ve been a Google Voice user since it was called Grand Central, and use the number as a disposable one – I’ll give it out to anyone. Until recently, that was the only real benefit that I saw – using Google Voice like a filter, to control who has direct access to my ‘real’ mobile number (which I protect carefully). However, a recent post from Andy Abramson shined a light on a much better scenario.

You can now hook up your Google Voice to your Gizmo5 service, using Gizmo5 as the SIP gateway to sending and receiving calls to/from your Google Voice number. After installing Gizmo5 on my Nokia N800 Internet Tablet, I am able to tether the tablet to my phone over 3G, and then use it to directly dial a phone number, and my caller ID comes across as my Google Voice number. Brilliant. I almost have the same setup working on my Nokia E63. On my N79 and 5800 XpressMusic, I can do the same thing using Nimbuzz to handle the SIP features, again, over 3G.

Why is the 3G significant? Because, currently, with AT&T, it would cost me $129/month to get unlimited domestic minutes, unlimited messaging, and unlimited 3G. If I want *just* unlimited 3G, with no minutes, it costs $59/mo – less than half the price. If I could make unlimited domestic calls with Google Voice through Gizmo5 SIP over 3G, I could get the features of the $130 plan, for only $60/month.  I would have replicated the entire cellphone experience with nothing but a data connection.

Of course you can do this without needing Google Voice, but using it brings along the SMS part of the equation, along with more advanced call management options, such as being able to send the call to another phone, etc.

So, what’s the catch? First off, coverage – 3G coverage, while plentiful, is nowhere near the same level as EDGE coverage, and a voice call over EDGE is spotty, at best. The other catch is battery life – maintaining a constantly active data connection on today’s cell phones isn’t likely to last you through lunch, much less an entire workday.

The point is, it’s doable, and with today’s technology, not something that’s coming down the pipeline. Given that AT&T’s 3G network is already stretched to the max, it wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest if AT&T was the one who prompted Apple to remove the Google Voice applications from the App Store recently. What do you think? Are you a bit more interested in Google Voice, now?

This also leads me to ask a familiar question – if/when AT&T (or the other carriers) finally realize that they are nothing but a dumb pipe, how will they compete? Will we have all-out price wars, or will we finally see the mobile carriers competing in the areas of customer service, extra features, etc?

  • http://twitter.com/toddbarnard Todd

    Google Voice is still available as a local app for Blackberry and Android. There’s lots of Blackberries running on AT&T ( and I have my Android phone on AT&T too! ). It’s also safe to assume that locally installed version of Google Voice will ( eventually ) be available for Windows Mobile phones running on AT&T.

    With the above in mind, all the Death Star will *not* be able to stop Google Voice from being used on their network. All they are doing is stalling for time until a wifi only version gets built for the iPhone ( ala Skype and Sling iPhone apps ).

    As to being a “dumb pipe” that is a foregone conclusion, better yet, AT&T may not even be able to aspire to be that lowly status for much longer – Per this tweet by @ribbit:

    http://twitter.com/Ribbit/status/2890586344

    ;)

  • http://twitter.com/toddbarnard Todd

    Google Voice is still available as a local app for Blackberry and Android. There’s lots of Blackberries running on AT&T ( and I have my Android phone on AT&T too! ). It’s also safe to assume that locally installed version of Google Voice will ( eventually ) be available for Windows Mobile phones running on AT&T.

    With the above in mind, all the Death Star will *not* be able to stop Google Voice from being used on their network. All they are doing is stalling for time until a wifi only version gets built for the iPhone ( ala Skype and Sling iPhone apps ).

    As to being a “dumb pipe” that is a foregone conclusion, better yet, AT&T may not even be able to aspire to be that lowly status for much longer – Per this tweet by @ribbit:

    http://twitter.com/Ribbit/status/2890586344

    ;)

  • http://techvideoblog.com/ Charbax

    In Europe, we can get unlimited data connection plans for less than $20 per month on HSDPA sim cards. So my next Android phone here in Denmark, is going to have only a pre-paid $20 per month HSDPA data sim card, no voice or SMS plans, and I am going to be using SIP, Skype and Google Voice for all my voice communications, all included for free.

    Agtain, the $20 per month HSDPA data plans are pre-paid only, no need to signup long term contracts. And if there is a contract (to subsidize a phone), contract length legal limit is 6 months not 24 months.

  • http://techvideoblog.com Charbax

    In Europe, we can get unlimited data connection plans for less than $20 per month on HSDPA sim cards. So my next Android phone here in Denmark, is going to have only a pre-paid $20 per month HSDPA data sim card, no voice or SMS plans, and I am going to be using SIP, Skype and Google Voice for all my voice communications, all included for free.

    Agtain, the $20 per month HSDPA data plans are pre-paid only, no need to signup long term contracts. And if there is a contract (to subsidize a phone), contract length legal limit is 6 months not 24 months.

  • James Body

    Nowhere on net have I seen any indication from Apple as to why the previously approved Google Voice applications have been removed from the iTunes apps store.

    Luckily I managed to download (and pay for) VoiceCentral before the ban.

    I would be very interested to hear Apple’s side of the story!

  • James Body

    Nowhere on net have I seen any indication from Apple as to why the previously approved Google Voice applications have been removed from the iTunes apps store.

    Luckily I managed to download (and pay for) VoiceCentral before the ban.

    I would be very interested to hear Apple’s side of the story!

  • mike

    Ricky

    I have an unlocked Iphone with 3G unrestrictor, with 3G coverage I assume I could get rid of the voice plan taking into account batter life and 3G coverage issues? Today Vonage got approved but I am thinking about waiting for Google voice to get approved. What do you think? I also have Truephone and Skype. Fring was just too buggy for me.

  • mike

    Ricky

    I have an unlocked Iphone with 3G unrestrictor, with 3G coverage I assume I could get rid of the voice plan taking into account batter life and 3G coverage issues? Today Vonage got approved but I am thinking about waiting for Google voice to get approved. What do you think? I also have Truephone and Skype. Fring was just too buggy for me.