I need a phone. I could chose to live a more “untethered life,” but I don’t really want to, so I’m not going to. I need a phone. I need a service that is cheap and doesn’t require my family to download or learn anything new.
I have done a lot of research on the subject and, I’ll be honest, I still don’t really get it. I will continue to update this post as I learn more, but I wanted to start early in case you have any better ideas for me.
Stage One: Port phone number to Google Voice
For $20, I ported (transferred) my phone number to Google Voice and cancelled my AT&T phone plan. So far, this has been a great move. It took a few days, but now I have access to all of my text messages and voice mails without anyone even knowing that I cancelled my phone plan.
Every text sent to my usual phone number goes to the Google Voice app both on my phone and computer, as long as they’re connected to wifi. This solves two problems: I still have the same phone number and I still get texts. Unfortunately, I can’t make or receive calls (Google Voice requires a phone with a service plan, but I can make calls from the computer, similar to Skype), and it’s all dependent on an internet connection. Time for Stage Two.
Stage Two: Forward calls to a USA phone number
For $50, I got a Skype USA phone number for one year. I then forwarded all of my Google Voice calls to my Skype phone number. Now I get all my texts from Google Voice and all of my phone calls on Skype. All of this happens without my friends and family needing to change any of their habits. They can continue to contact me the same way they always have.
This solves one more problem: I can receive calls from the USA without any long distance fees. Unfortunately, I still can’t make calls and I still need the internet.
Stage Three: Profit?
Stage three is where I’m a bit stuck. I am pretty sure the answer is to get a local SIM card with a data plan. I will then be able to use all of the apps on my phone without needing to be in wifi. This would allow me to make calls using Google Voice via Google Hangouts on my phone. The down-side is that I would need to pay long distance fees ($0.01/minute) when I make calls. The up-side is that I don’t think anyone has to pay fees to call me and texts are always free. This solves the remaining problems.
So, in theory (I still haven’t tried Stage Three), I have put together a plan that would allow my family to text, call, and leave voice mails to the same phone number I have had for over 10 years without any long-distance fees. I will be able to use a combination of one or two apps on my current phone to get a fully functioning phone plan without roaming and a discounted long-distance plan of only $0.01 per minute.
If you have done this before, please let me know your thoughts.