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Google Voice – A Blessing For Those Canadians Who Have It

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Talk to ten different people about Google Voice in Canada and you’ll get ten different responses. Some will say it’s great calling to Canada but are unable to call FROM Canada using the service with a regular phone. Others will brag and say they have full capability, even from their iPhone. Still others will say they’re unable to get a Canadian account at all. What’s going on?

The story really begins July 2, 2007 when Google announced their purchase of GrandCentral Communications to become what we now know as Google Voice. Canadians who had already signed on to GrandCentral and had linked a Canadian terminating number to their accounts were permitted to keep their accounts unaltered through the transition to Google. What this has caused is a limited number of Canadians being permitted to have a full Google Voice account TODAY.

NEW signups on Google Voice from Canada will be greeted with a notice stating the service is not yet available.

If you were one of those early adopters who does have a fully activated and Canadian linked account, you’ve already experience the joys of what Google Voice can do. Besides a great set of features such as free text messages, voice mail and voice mail transcription, the service offers you the ability to make calls to anywhere in North America for free. If you are a mobile subscriber with free incoming calls, the calls you initiate from Google Voice really are free – including local calls you would make within your own Canadian city.

GV Connect appThe iPhone app which brings these features into harmony with a Canadian iPhone is GV Connect. Though a little shaky with “foreign accounts” when first released, the app has been updated and now brings the ability of not only fully accessing a Google Voice account, but also to initiate a call back to your device which in turn will connect a regular call to another North American regular phone number – at no charge whatsoever (as long as you have free incoming on your mobile plan).

I’m sure it’s all this “free phone connection” business which had Apple in a knot over Google Voice in the first place. The system does work and when Google Voice is fully released to all Canadians, more and more people will learn how much easier and cheaper it would be to initiate calls through the service and the “Canadian Google Voice Mess” will come to an end.

Let’s just hope Google will keep the service free.

I’m Robert Sanzalone (@pacificIT), a new contributor at iPhone in Canada and I’d love to hear your thoughts. Cheers!

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  • Anonymous

    I’ll probably have to wait until it’s available to Canadians, but if I’m reading this right, if I use GV on my iPhone, it calls the number of whoever I want to call and then calls my phone to connect us? So, if I’m in my home calling area I only pay for whatever local airtime I use [I currently have 200 min], but if I was in Florida, I would be paying LD roaming charges as if I were receiving a call from home?

    The vast majority of my LD charges are when I’m not at home. I guess GV will be of limited use for me, though I suppose it’s still better than nothing.

  • Sushii

    I believe its more like Skype, it uses your Data to make the calls.

  • Richard

    My company network has a US IP so I was lucky to be enrolled in google voice in Canada. The google number doesn’t do me much good but free outgoing call is great! I use Acrobits for iPhone to make this happen. I have google voice account and gizmo5. So I use google voice account to dial, immediately receive the call on my gizmo account while google connects the other party. All of these over 3G using the g729 codec. So outgoing calls are completely free even without unlimited incoming. Well, you do need a data plan.

    The only downside, I can’t set the outgoing caller ID to a Canadian number, so my friends see my google number calling them.

    Free north American SMS. But again, my friend won’t reply SMS to a US Number.

  • Richard

    My company network has a US IP so I was lucky to be enrolled in google voice in Canada. The google number doesn’t do me much good but free outgoing call is great! I use Acrobits for iPhone to make this happen. I have google voice account and gizmo5. So I use google voice account to dial, immediately receive the call on my gizmo account while google connects the other party. All of these over 3G using the g729 codec. So outgoing calls are completely free even without unlimited incoming. Well, you do need a data plan.

    The only downside, I can’t set the outgoing caller ID to a Canadian number, so my friends see my google number calling them.

    Free north American SMS. But again, my friend won’t reply SMS to a US Number.

  • Clgry

    It is possible to sign up if you have a 403 area code.

  • Snowflake

    I jumped through a few hoops to get a phone number in Alberta (403 area code) using freephoneline.ca. Then I was able to sign up for a Google Voice account by accessing the GV website using a US proxy. Unfortunately, I still can’t make free calls with it.

    Any time I try to make an outgoing call using Google Voice on the iPhone, it dials the receiving number, and then a message pops up on my screen “hit OK to dial…” and some long-distance number. So it won’t call my iPhone back to connect me, it tells me to use my iPhone to call a number. Really, no benefit there over just making the call myself.

    Until they can make this work more reliably, and roll it out to the rest of Canada, it’ll remain a novelty.

  • Snowflake

    I jumped through a few hoops to get a phone number in Alberta (403 area code) using freephoneline.ca. Then I was able to sign up for a Google Voice account by accessing the GV website using a US proxy. Unfortunately, I still can’t make free calls with it.

    Any time I try to make an outgoing call using Google Voice on the iPhone, it dials the receiving number, and then a message pops up on my screen “hit OK to dial…” and some long-distance number. So it won’t call my iPhone back to connect me, it tells me to use my iPhone to call a number. Really, no benefit there over just making the call myself.

    Until they can make this work more reliably, and roll it out to the rest of Canada, it’ll remain a novelty.

  • Mizboy

    I have Google Voice and its not North American free, its only USA and Canada. When I call my friends in Panama and Honduras I have a very small expense. The sign up was easy and if your really looking for one you could buy it off of Ebay. Better get your facts straight about what is covered and what is not or I guess if your closed minded and think only two countries exist in North America then you’ll believe your right.

    Mizboy

  • Half_Pint

    Interesting.

    Welcome, Robert!

  • Guest

    its not like skype

  • Snowflake

    It’s “jumping through hoops” because you have to do it at all. If 403 works and lets you set up a “canadian” account, then why not open it to everyone? It makes no sense.

    You don’t need a US proxy to *use* GV, but you need a US proxy to *set up* GV the first time. You can’t do it without one.

    Calls from my desktop to a landline phone have been about 30% successful. I can call my desk phone at work. I can’t call my iPhone or my dad’s iPhone. About 3 seconds after we connect, the call just drops with no warnings.

  • Jbrooks0825

    I have Gizmo+Google voice and Acrobits too. How do you make calls with G729 with google? I am only able to use the G711 u-law with google voice. I can use the G729 with gizmo, but my incoming calls are picked up by google voice. Been trying to find a way to use google voice dial out and incoming calls with G729 codec.

  • Pingback: Official Google Voice iPhone App Released | iPhone in Canada Blog - Canada's #1 iPhone Resource()

  • Fas

    don’t forget about central america mizboy. don’t want to imply you’re closed minded though ; )

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