For almost a year, Sprint has had the monopoly on full Google Voice integration. That monopoly may be in jeopardy. In an interview with CNET, Vincent Paquet, Group Product Manager for Google Voice, said “We are having discussions with other carriers about this,” but declined to mention which carriers.
Google Voice is a service that provides users with online and on-device visual voicemail, cheaper international calls, personalized greetings, text transcription, and more. Sprint’s integration allows Sprint customers to either replace their Sprint number with their Google Voice number, or replace their Google Voice number with their Sprint number without incurring the usual $20 porting fee (see screenshot after the break). Either way, users get full access to all of Google Voice’s features.
Sprint’s partnership with Google has been very successful, according to Paquet. “Sprint integration has worked really well,” he said. “We have, since Day One, had a steady stream of people signing up for it.” Sprint was happy to be the first partner since the deal would give Sprint a unique and powerful service without the high cost of rolling out similar features on their own.
Right now, there are currently no plans to announce any new carrier deals, but Paquet’s comments make it clear that the current Sprint deal is not exclusive, or at least not anymore. Bringing the service to more networks could help solidify Google Voice as an indispensable service for many people, especially Android users. It will also remove one advantage Sprint had over its competitors.
Personally, I had converted my Sprint number to a Google Voice number early last year but ended up changing it back. Not because the service was poor, but because Sprint’s built-in visual voicemail app was already pretty solid, and I was missing the ability to receive MMS messages in the same place as my texts. No true MMS support was my deal breaker, and email forwarding of MMS is not quite the same.
Anyone on a non-Sprint carrier looking forward to getting a more integrated Google Voice?