Getting Google Voice outside the US

14Dec10

I live in the UK, and I feel like I’ve been waiting for Google Voice for way too long. I also travel frequently to the US, so I could get some use out of the service as it stands and it’s been frustrating that I couldn’t sign up.

Disclaimers

Google only offers it’s Voice service within the US, and using it elsewhere probably constitutes a violation of their terms of service.[1]

When Google does get around to launching services outside of the US it’s likely that you won’t be able to use them (with a given account) if you’re already using a US number.

Signing up

You will need:

  • A proxy in the US
  • A US telephone number that you’re able to answer

Like so many geographically limited services Google Voice uses IP geolocation to determine whether you’re allowed to play or not. When I browsed to voice.google.com from the UK I’d see the message shown above. Using EC2 as a proxy to give me a US IP got around that problem, and I was able to start the sign up process.

To complete the sign up you need to register at least one US phone number, and verify it by entering a code. To get a (free) US number I used IPkall. Luckily I already had a VOIP/SIP service that I could point IPkall at. Initially I had some trouble – the number IPkall gave me had already been used by multiple Google Voice subscribers, but after cancelling that number I got another that did work.

There are probably other ways to do this now. Skype has just refined their SkypeToGo service so that it can connect directly to a remote extension via the Skype network (rather than using an IVR menu as before), which means it’s possible to avoid SIP and VOIP entirely and just virtually wire up existing telephones [2].

Refinements

Once I had the basic service working I spent some time integrating Google Voice with my SIP Sorcery account. There’s a great guide for this. Along the way I also got myself a SIPgate number in the US. This involved some more proxy based hoop jumping (and a friend with a US mobile), but gives me confidence that I have a backup to IPkall if it becomes flaky.

I also configured SIP Sorcery so that incoming calls from Google Voice would be routed to my mobile and desk phones (by making use of Ribbit).

Next steps

I still need to get my US mobile registered, and since my PAYG T-Mobile doesn’t offer international roaming I’m going to have to wait until my next trip to get that sorted.

Numbers

After going through this process I now have a ridiculous quantity of telephone numbers – 11 in total. The good news is that I only need to give two out to people that want to contact me – my UK number (which is attached to Skype, and normally forwards into my Ribbit UK service) and my Google Voice US number (which through SIP Sorcery meshes into my existing handsets, desk phones and services).

Conclusion

Whilst I hope that Google Voice will soon launch in the UK and other countries there’s definitely some use that can be had out of it now for people that do business in the US and/or travel there frequently. It would be brilliant if Google Voice could replace the rats nest of Skype, SIP sorcery, IPkall, SIPgate and Ribbit that I’m presently using and let me have the entry points (numbers) that I need flexibly routed to the end points (handsets) that I have, but I won’t hold my breath on that – especially where multiple countries and billing/regulatory structures are involved.

Notes

[1] Though I should point out here that people who sign up for the service in the US aren’t prevented from using it when they travel, so to that extent the service is as global as the Internet it runs on.

[2] To use this method you just need to enter your Google Voice number as a registered phone. It’s also necessary to set Caller ID (incoming) to ‘Display my Google Voice number’ otherwise Skype won’t be able to authenticate the call origin.



One Response to “Getting Google Voice outside the US”

  1. 1 Mike

    You can use google voice to call from any country. Follow the link below to a solution that will make the call phone button appear in gmail even if you’re outside of the US.

    http://callphone.allurewebsolutions.com


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: