Jan. 25, 2011 at 8:32 PM ET
Google confirmed today, after some murmurs over the past week, that you can finally port your beloved phone number to Google Voice. This is a big deal.
Google Voice, a free service that routes calls to any phone you designate, and gives you voicemail, text messaging and a whole bunch of other phone-y features to boot, is perhaps the most nerd-celebrated Google product after Gmail and Google Maps. It comes with a phone number, but most people already have one of those, one they care deeply about. So anyone getting into the Google Voice groove would have to either go through that arcane process of telling people their new phone number — as if! — or use the service as a side line to their active phone.
Number porting makes your commitment to Google Voice more final, for better or worse.
Even if you want to adopt Google Voice, this process isn't something you should take lightly. You have to cancel your current mobile plan in order to port your number. Even if you keep your phone, you'll have to go through the complicated procedure of getting a new service plan for your phone, with a new number. You may have to pay an early termination fee.
(For a run-down of issues, plus some great tips for porting, check out Google's porting FAQ page.)
There is one category of people who are definitely going to want to consider this: People who are already switching carriers. Think about it — you are already canceling service and porting your number, so instead of trapping your beloved digits inside another device for two years, why not assign them to your Google Voice account? When people call your number, it will still ring on the new phone, because Google Voice receives the call, then routes it to your new, carrier-provided, totally random, absolutely boring number.
So switchers, even those of you who aren't chomping at the bit to leave a certain blue carrier for a certain red carrier because of a certain i-product, bear this in mind. The rest of us will probably follow by and by. After all, without our phone numbers, we are nothing.