I use Google Voice most every day and love it. The service provides FREE1 telephone calls to all telephones in the United States and Canada and calls to other countries are available at very, very low prices. Google Voice works with your normal telephone you already have; there is no need to use a headset on your computer or anything similar. In fact, Google Voice works with normal phones from the telephone company as well as with cell phones, and VoIP (computer) phones. You also receive a new telephone number that you can use for incoming calls, again at no charge.
I disconnected my old telephone service several years ago and I don't miss it. My new telephone looks like a normal cordless phone; I don't wear a headset and I don't need to leave my computer running to receive calls. I have full 911 emergency service, Directory Assistance, voice mail, call forwarding, and all the other services one expects with any telephone. By using Google Voice and some options available with Skype, my monthly telephone bill now is $3 to $5 per month2, not the $30+ per month that I used to pay to the telephone company.
When Google initially integrated Google Voice into Gmail in 2010, it made calls within the US and Canada free, but stated that the company would start charging for the service in 2011. Late in 2010, Google's managers announced they had changed their minds and would extend the free calling through 2011 as a holiday gift. However, the company left the door open to begin charging in 2012.
Guess what? Writing in the Official Gmail Blog, Vincent Paquet, Group Product Manager, now says that "we've extended free domestic calls within the US and Canada for 2012."
The brief announcement is available at http://gmailblog.blogspot.com/2011/12/free-calling-within-us-and-canada.html.
More information about Google Voice is available at https://support.google.com/voice/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=115061&topic=1707989&rd=1 and at https://support.google.com/voice/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=115073&topic=1707989&ctx=topic.
Note #1: At this time Google Voice is only available in the U.S. Users outside of the US can use Call Phone in Gmail to make international calls at affordable rates. Details may be found at http://www.google.com/support/chat/bin/answer.py?answer=187614.
Note #2: Google Voice is free. However, I use it in conjunction with Skype, which is also free for basic service, but I do pay $3 to $5 per month to Skype for some of that service's optional features.
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