updated 01:45 pm EST, Tue January 25, 2011
Google Voice number porting now live
After a brief tease a few days ago, Google today switched on number porting for Google Voice. The option lets those with a long-serving phone number turn it into a Google Voice number. Making the swap lets users change the number of their cellphone or any other phone without disrupting the number friends might prefer to call.
The service works much like that for porting between cellphone carriers and will cancel the older phone carrier's service. Despite most phone carriers being legally required to offer porting for free, Google is charging $20 for the service and needs a payment through Google Checkout to make the transition. It hasn't explained the reasoning for the fee but isn't regulated like traditional phone providers.
Initially, only existing Google Voice customers in the US will have access to number porting. New customers will get it within the "next few weeks." Google hasn't yet said when it plans to expand Google Voice past the US.