Google Voice: Power to the People!

Lately, I’ve had a phone that just keeps randomly calling my cell phone.  It appears to be some magazine subscription service. I get at least 2 calls a day and let’s just say it’s really annoying. Don’t have to use my imagination to think that this is probably some type of obnoxious robocall service.

I rarely use my phone, so I have a prepaid plan with over 3000 minutes (accumulated over a few years of light use), with a max cap of 5000 minutes.   After digging around on the Internet, I discovered that Google Voice can block calls with a very cool message: “this phone number is no longer in service”. Sounds like the real deal too!  Even more cool is that I can have it notify me when I’ve missed a call through the Google Voice extension for Chrome or alert me to a new voice message that I can play right from the Internet.  All I have to do is forward my phone number to Google Voice.

It seems odd that blocking e-mail addresses is pretty trivial these days (Hotmail.com even allows top-level domain blocking!), but nothing like that seems to exist for most cell phone providers. AT&T has a parental control service that they will sell you for $5/month, but it doesn’t work for prepaid plans. Bummer.  Maybe with all the FCC regulations that we now have on the books, maybe we can add 1 more that would require cell phone providers to allow all customers to block phone numbers of their choice from a web page.  Crazy?

The one caveat to using Google Voice with conditional forwarding is that this will use the phone plan’s airtime minutes: basically, it costs me 10 cents every time someone calls me regardless of whether they leave a message.  Given that I add $100/year to carry over the unused minutes, I’m only paying about $8.33/month to keep to the right to use the phone when I want.