If you still have a landline phone, you might be on the cutting edge of technology without knowing it. Google said this week that it is introducing a landline that users can add to their Google Fiber service.
Google Fiber Phone aims to offer users comprehensive home phone service and more. For $10 per month, U.S. subscribers get unlimited local and nationwide calling, plus Canada. International calls come at the same rates as those for Google Voice. The $10-per-month charge is comparable to pricing for Vonage's VoIP service, but more than other providers such as MagicJack and Ooma.
The service will be sold alongside Google's 1Gbps broadband service in cities where Google has deployed its all-fiber network. So far, those cities include Atlanta, Austin, Charlotte, Kansas City, Nashville, Provo, Raleigh-Durham, Salt Lake City, and San Antonio.
New Services and Old
Subscribers to Google Fiber Phone can keep their old phone number or choose a new one. Call waiting, caller ID, and 911 services are available in the same way they are with a conventional landline. Fiber Phone offers access to voicemail, with the added twist that it can transcribe voice messages and then send as an SMS text or email, via Gmail. The service also offers a Gmail-style spam filter to keep telemarketers from engaging Fiber Phone lines.
The number assigned to Fiber Phone subscribers will be based in the cloud, meaning that users can answer incoming calls on whatever device they feel like choosing -- a landline phone, smartphone, other mobile device, or even on desktop and laptop computers.
The phone works via VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) technology, which allows for the delivery of voice communications and multimedia over an Internet connection. To use the service, users attach what's called a Fiber Phone box to an existing landline handset in order to place calls from home.
Fighting Other Providers
Google is coming along with the landline service at a time when not only have landline subscriptions been steadily dropping, but when Google is facing competition for ultra high-speed Internet customers from broadband providers such as AT&T and Comcast. Both of those companies are busy coordinating gigabit Internet service in some of the cities where Google Fiber has already established itself.
A survey from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that, as of three years ago, 40 percent of U.S. adults were using only a cell phone for voice communications. Since then, the trend away from landlines toward greater use of cell phones has continued.
Nonetheless, Google seems to be hoping that tacking landline service onto their data service will be enough of a bonus to woo customers away from their current providers.
Fiber Phone is being rolled out only to select areas with Google Fiber service for now, but the plan is to eventually have it available everywhere Google's broadband service is available. Those interested can sign up at https://services.google.com/fb/forms/fiberphone/
Image Credit: Phone images via Google Fiber website. Phones not included with service.