Google Fiber testing phone service with select users, report says
The rollout of Google Fiber, the search giant's initiative to give select cities high-speed Internet access, could be about to add a service that would dramatically enhance the offering: phone service.
Invites for a new service called Google Fiber Phone went out to select users recently with messages promising call screening, a do not disturb feature and spam filtering.
Describing Fiber Phone as a home phone service, Google says it features voicemail, a phone number that "lives in the cloud" and an end to concerns around mobile phone reception or battery life (clearly a nod to the fact that many users have begun to use their mobile phone as their home phone).
Although not released to the general public, it appears that
the features mentioned in the invitation closely mirror those of Google Voice
the features mentioned in the invitation closely mirror those of Google Voice, the widely available service from the company that allows you to send and receive phone calls from your computer.
And like Google Voice, Fiber Phone also allows you to obtain a new phone number or transfer an existing one (mobile or landline) to your Fiber Phone. The service also duplicates Google Voice's voicemail transcription service.
And while details are scarce at this point, Fiber Phone sounds a lot like VoIP (Voice over IP) solutions that have been around for years. In order to participate in the program, Google Fiber users will need to allow workers into their homes to install an additional piece of equipment.
Although, in this case, given the speed of Google Fiber (reportedly 100 times faster than current broadband speeds from other ISPs), the call quality could be better than anything we've ever experienced from VoIP services.
Some of the next cities slated to get Google Fiber (and potential Fiber Phone service in the future) include Chicago; Los Angeles; Oklahoma City; Tampa; Jacksonville, Florida; Louisville, Kentucky; Portland, Oregon; Phoenix, Arizona; San Diego; San Jose and Irvine, California.
The invites have been going out for at least a month now, according to the report, but Google itself has yet to make any official announcement. No launch date or cost associated with the feature has been announced, but when it does go wide, this would effectively round out Google's service package as an aspiring ISP. Offering Internet-powered phone service has become a staple of major ISPs in recent years.