Long story short… Sprint / Google Voice merger may quietly USE UP your ‘anytime’ minutes.
(NOTE: I love Google. I like what the company does. And I use many of their services. I've also been been a Sprint customer since 1998.)
However, when you use GV, either directly or indirectly, you are using land-line phone numbers. You see, to make Google Voice work, Google bought a bunch of land-line phone numbers that are connected to land-based service.
Companies like Sprint advertise calling plans that say “free mobile-to-mobile” calls. So I guess that means that if I use my cell phone to call my friend’s cell phone, then it’s free, right? That’s mobile-to-mobile, right? I won’t be using my anytime minutes, right? Yes, and no.
YES: If I use my Sprint handset, and do not use the Google Voice app to make the call, and I call directly to my friend’s mobile number, on his mobile handset, and he is not using Google Voice or even a GV number, then the entire call is “mobile to mobile” and it’s free… no anytime minutes used by me.
NO: If at any point in that path, a land-line gets involved at all (including using Google Voice) on my end or on his end, then the call is no longer mobile-to-mobile and I am using my minutes…. AND he is using his minutes, too…. Yes, you read that right. Even if your friend is using Google Voice, and you call his cell, via his Google Voice number, you are using a land-line in that path and you will be charged minutes.
So, in my opinion, Sprint is secretly getting you to use more minutes, so you'll need a bigger "plan" AND they no longer have to maintain their voicemail servers. Win for Sprint. Win for Google. And win for customer, too, if you pay close attention to your minutes.
Can you please publish a USEFUL FAQ on this? I've called the CSR and they don't seem to have any info on this and nothing conclusive is showing up on line so please clear this up so we don't have to speculate. If being charged is a random thing I'm not going to use this and I'm going spread the word that it's a bad deal so help clear up the confusion.... We need some closure on how this would be handled.
If you'd like some input... GV to GV should be handled like mobile to mobile. GV to mobile should be considered mobile-to-mobile. mobile to GV considered landline (unless the other person is also using GV integration). Also, no forwarding or minutes charging for incoming folks using GV to leave voicemail on our phones. If you choose all these options GV will be a big win for Sprint customers; otherwise it'll just be something we complain about.
I have been told by someone who works at Sprint (Shelby) that they were told the GV Sprint merger was why it would NOT be considered landline usage. That the whole reason for the merger in this endeavor was so that Sprint would make it mobile to mobile while Google provides the service. Seems fair to me and I honestly hope it is true!
Thom, just read your blog post and posted a comment. What you're saying contradicts my information so please, let me know if you're seeing the integrated service burn up your mobile-to-mobile minutes. In my experience that's not the case.
@Guisar yep, there is a FAQ at sprint.com/googlevoice which states that your plan doesn't change when you hook up with Google Voice, and all calling is counted the same as if you had never integrated with Google Voice.
The latest articles show that the the integration with GV does not use up YOUR minutes, but rather it will use up your FRIENDS' minutes, if you use your GV number as your outgoing number instead of your sprint number. The reason is that your friend's cell service sees the incoming GV number as a landline number, therefore it is not mobile-to-mobile, and thus uses his minutes.
I believe that I read where Sprint suggests that you intergrate with GV by choosing your mobile / sprint number and not the free GV number, to help prevent errors and extra minute usage.
That's unfortunate as it completely obviates the point of having a google number (number transparency and portability). I don't want people to have my cell number and I want a number which isn't directly associated with any account; it's why google thought there was a market for google voice. Ironic that someone (me) who was probably one of the first using google voice back when it was grand central will never do the google voice integration which I had been looking forward to because Sprint did it completely backwards.
This is the correct update, the changes from your original post. The system is still in its infancy, and is still being changed. Hopefully soon the "anytime minutes" issue will be fixed.