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Google Voice -- Compelling phone service trumps Skype for Boomers and Seniors

Yeah, yeah, Skype is cool for boomers and seniors -- especially grandparents. Free video conferencing with the grandkids and free long-distance calls -- even if some of them are a bit flaky in quality, probably due to a poor Internet connection. And the teaser (of course) is to upgrade you to their low, low international long distance phone plans. Okay, sounds good -- and I know folks love it -- "Do you Skype?" is a frequent starter for planning a meeting. But let's just forget Skype for a minute -- a jaw-dropping service may be around the corner -- Google Voice.

Google has snuck up on the long distance world -- and said 'Boo'. Google grabbed a million phone numbers from Level 3, according to NetworkWorld, and in the past few weeks has enabled users to sign up online and be 'invited' to select one of those numbers, which can be in your standard local area code, selected by you from a displayed list. What can you do with that number? Well that's the game changer, as they like to say in the tech world.

Get rid of domestic long distance plans -- no Internet required. You dial that number from your land line in your local area code and then any number in the US that you want to dial -- you call for free. That means a) no need for domestic long-distance service from your home base, b) no need to be on the Internet to initiate the call.  That's free and it's not through your (potentially lousy) Internet service. Want to know more?

Boost for small business. Expand on that feature list,says NetworkWorld:  "you can access the kind of advanced features that would normally require either paying fees to your local phone company or setting up your own office PBX. For example, you can forward calls to up to six other phones, make free text messages, take voice mail messages and set up four-person conference calls."

Free means free -- for now. So let's think about what that means. Well, a 'free' US long-distance calling model that doesn't require you to use an Internet service to launch it -- that means calling plans can be slashed back to minimalist levels if friends and family are in the US. But if the Internet is unavailable and you have a BlackBerry (not from an iPhone app, since it seems to have been banned), you can access the Google Voice user interface, ask it to dial a number and present that call to you on any one of your multiple pre-configured call forwarding land line phones.

I dunno -- it seems important.  What do you think?


I am still waiting to be "invited" by Google for a Google Voice account. I've read they're really giving long distance calls for free within US but you need to dial through their web interface. VoIP calls are getting cheaper and cheaper these days. At the moment, I am using VoIP service and calls are just 2.5c to US and 1.9c to Canada and I wonder how Onesuite makes profit with those rates. Then, now Google giving calls for free. There must be some sort of catch later on because the phone numbers alone already cost them what more the unlimited long distance service? Oh well, until I get my Google Voice, let me just enjoy Onesuite low rates for now.

I have both Google Voice and Onesuite service (voip, fax, calling card) and I use both of them.

Google Voice strictly for within calls to US numbers and Onesuite mostly for international calls and other services like fax to email.

I hope you get an invite soon from Google Voice.

Yes I use too for long distance its pretty reliable.

If you have a spare Google Voice invite please send me one at jaygmz1 at


One of the attractions of Skype is seeing the person ( friend, familiy member, business contact, healthcare provider, etc )too.

When will Google start responding to the urgent need of busy babyboomer caregivers for a reliable, affordable, "senior-friendly" voice and video phone service.

There is a range of Google products and services which could be packaged into a senior-user-friendly "suite" that could really "sweeten" the lives of baby boomer caregivers and their elders.

Google Video Chat -- starts from Gmail (Google Chat).  I have a Logitech C905 web camera. Seems to work fine.

I use to connect with my grandchildren, real fun!

This could be a good alternative to what is availalbe now. More competition means lower prices and it would be great for a company like Google to create alternatives. The alternative is needed in many situations as VOIP is sensitive to bandwidth limitations which makes a big difference in a business environment.