Sprint and Google Voice Get Cozy; Heavy Integration Coming (UPDATE)
In an unfathomable move, the third largest wireless carrier in the US has allowed Google passage far beyond what anyone would have expected. Today, before the company’s scheduled CTIA show-off session, Sprint and Google have announced a partnership that will seemingly end what many are accustomed to as Sprint Visual Voicemail.
Google Voice will now be fully integrated with your Sprint service. It used to be that you’d have to port your cell number over to Google in order to make it your Google Voice gateway. Now, if you’re a Sprint customer, you can use your existing cell number as your Google Voice number without the need to port it over. This will allow users the convenience of Google Voice and its robust features (such as cheap international calling) without all the setup hassle.
“With this integration, we have made Google Voice simple to use with a Sprint phone,” said Dave Girouard, president at Google. “Sprint subscribers now have access to all the benefits of Google Voice behind their existing mobile number without the need for porting or, if they already have a Google Voice number, they can display that number from their Sprint phone without the need for a separate application.”
According to one Sprint PR member, Google Voice integration will actually be coming to all Sprint CDMA phones. It’s unclear what that means though. Are Google and Sprint building a special Voice app for dumb-phones as well?
It will also be interesting to see what becomes of this integration when, and if, Google Voice goes VoIP. Will this give Sprint some level of control when it comes to charging for phone calls made over VoIP? Let’s hope not.
The main question I have is regarding Mobile 2 Mobile minutes. In the past, if someone called your Google Voice number from their cell phone, both parties would be charged minutes, as the number was considered a landline. However, if you’re able to use your actual Sprint number as your Google Voice number, would the number now have the status of a cell phone? This could mean Mobile 2 Mobile minutes while still taking advantage of Google Voice. I have contacted Sprint PR for comment. If I hear anything, I’ll be sure to update this post.
The new service isn’t available just yet, but if you’d like to be notified when it is, visit http://www.google.com/googlevoice/sprint and sign up for an email alert.
UPDATE: Here’s the official word from Sprint PR. Looks like a serious game changer for Google Voice users.
“Calls made or received using your Sprint phone with Google Voice integration are billed just as they would have been without Google Voice integration. So if you call another mobile phone or another mobile phone calls you, those are considered and billed as mobile-to-mobile calls. If you call a landline or a landline calls you, those are considered and billed as landline calls.”