man talking on phone

If you’re a Google Voice user, then you’ve noticed some changes.  Google Voice, for those of you who don’t know, is a service that gives US users a free phone number, so they can make calls, and send text messages on devices other than a smartphone.  I should also make note that the service is free.  The big change is the arrangement that Google has with Sprint, which said that you can use your Sprint phone number for Google Voice. Google, however, has informed Sprint customers that this is about to end thanks to some changes coming from Sprint’s networks.

So here’s the catch.  With the previous arrangement, Google Voice users could make free calls to most places in the United States and Canada.  But as of June 1st, all outgoing calls, including international calls will go through the Sprint network, and therefore be billed accordingly.  Messages, calls, and voicemails after that date will no longer be stored on Google Voice, and you won’t be able to use Voice-enabled features like call forwarding, voicemail transcription, and spam detection.

google voice

This isn’t good.  I mean, it was bound to happen at some point, but in general, this isn’t a good business solution.  If you’re offering something free for so long, you shouldn’t just be able to take it away like that.  I could see grandfathering this in, which means that anyone who wants to sign up for a new Google Voice account, would be required to play by these rules, but  I don’t like how they’ve done this for existing users.

More specifically, what does this mean?

  • All outgoing calls (including international calls) and texts will be made through Sprint at Sprint’s calling and texting rates, if applicable.
  • All new messages, calls, and voicemails sent from your Sprint phone will not be stored in Google Voice.  You will still be able to see your messages, voicemail, and call history from before June 1, 2018, in Google Voice on your Sprint device. You can also export this data from your Google Voice account: takeout.google.com.
  • You won’t be able to use Google Voice-enabled capabilities such as call forwarding,  voicemail transcription, spam detection, and other Google Voice features.  These capabilities can be enabled from your Sprint device.

google voice

Google recommends disabling integration before the cut-off date of June 1st and re-blocking any phone numbers using the carrier’s MySprint application. You’ll have to re-install Google Voice on your phone if you want to keep using it.  You can still use Voice by getting a dedicated number from Google or even port your Sprint number to Google Voice.  But that means, you would have to get a new Sprint number, and that feels like a hassle. All good things come to an end at some point, so I guess we should be happy that this partnership lasted for as long as it did.

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