Google Voice and Skype – Cheap Awesome Home VoIP Phone Service

For about 3 years, I’ve lived totally without a “Land line” phone and used only a mobile phone.

At the same time, carrying two cell phones around was always a pain so I decided to cancel my “personal” cell phone and use only my employer provided blackberry. I recently got lucky enough (after weeks and weeks of pestering anyone I could find) to get an invite to Google voice, and that service has given me a completely new way of looking at phone service. I have been waiting for this forever.

Here’s what I’ve done this week:

1: Skype Unlimited Calling Subscription.
An unlimited US/Canada calling plan from Skype is about 34 dollars a year (2.79 / month). This unlimited calling plan allows me to call any phone in the continental US and Canada and talk as long as I want. For 2.79 a month, you just can’t beat that.

2: Skype Online Number.
When I signed up for an unlimited calling subscription, I got a discount on signing up for a Skype phone number at a 50% off. Subscribing to an online number is usually 60 bucks a month; but since I signed up for unlimited calling it was only 30 dollars for a 12 month subscription. This brings the TOTAL cost of Skype for a year of unlimited service with a callable phone number to about $64.

3: A Landline Phone VoIP Gateway USB adapter.
I ordered a Skype VoIP gateway which I will connect to my home server computer via USB. This product’s only (and very minimal, IMO) downside is that it must be connected to a PC in order to work. This adapter allows you to make and receive Skype calls from your normal phone handset. Plug in your standard cordless phone receiver with a couple satellite handsets, and you’ve got a pretty solid home phone that converts to VoIP using your Skype account. This product was 27 dollars and about 5 dollars shipping for a cost of $32.

4: Tie the Room Together with Google Voice.
Using Google Voice, I’ve set up a primary number that I use to forward to my Mobile phone and also my Skype number. So, anytime somebody calls me I have the option to answer it on my actual cell phone, on my computer with Skype’s soft client, or on a normal cordless phone handset hooked up through the VoIP gateway adapter.

I’m not a person that likes to spend hours on the phone, but at the same time I feel good about giving my employer a break and not using my work cell for 100% of my personal phone calls. And really, I feel like this setup is pretty “bad ass” from a techie perspective.

To give some perspective, here are the base prices for some other VoIP solutions:

    Vonage: 24.99 / month
    Charter Home Voice: 29.99 / month
    Comcast “Digital Voice”: 24.95 / month

My setup, although a little more hands-on to set up, is VASTLY cheaper than these other options – and provides a unified voicemail that I can access online, amazing call forwarding features through Google voice, number blocking, call screening, and pretty awesome flexibility to make calls from cell/normal phone/computers running Skype.

With a setup that I like more than Vonage, Comcast, or Charter – my total cost per month for the first year of service will be about $8.05 per month. ($30 Skype number + $33 VoIP Gateway + 33.60 annual Skype subscription for Unlimited calls / 12 Months) And that number will go down significantly next year without having to purchase another gateway device adapter.

Google Voice is seriously changing the game, and I have officially jumped in.

12 thoughts on “Google Voice and Skype – Cheap Awesome Home VoIP Phone Service

  1. Jeff

    Thanks for the great suggestions for using Google Voice and Skype for a great phone-system setup. I’d love to do something similar but haven’t been able to get a Google Voice invite – any chance you have an extra one that you could pass on 🙂

  2. Vanberge Post author

    If I do happen to come by some invites- I will pass one your way.

    Thanks for your interest; and for your comment!

  3. Rick Alleva

    Hi…Great tips. I just learned of Google Voice and haven’t yet gotten an invite. I’ve been thinking of using Skype for most calls but they don’t yet offer numbers in my area (Maine) and I don’t want every call to be long distance. But tell me if Skype is necessary to do what you want with Google Voice. If you have free friends calls via Verizon or yes you can get 5 from Sprint too, if you use the Google Voice number as one of them will this give you free calls to that number without having to pay for Skype, then still use the adapter and call features of Google Voice…Just trying to figure out what may work and you seem to have a good sense…Thanks

  4. Vanberge Post author

    I think what you’re asking is technically possible – but Google Voice itself doesnt work as a soft voip client. You’ll need some device for google voice to foward calls to.

    But, the setup can be done for totally free using Google Voice with Gizmo5. I keep meaning to check out Gizmo5 because it’s free and Google Voice can forward to it directly; but Skype I think is a bit more flexible than Gizmo5.

    Hope that helps; and hope you get an invite soon.

  5. RAFAEL C.

    You Sir Are A Genius, Is This The Final Voip Design Version You Came Up With Before I Duplicate Your set up?…I Have The Palm Pre FYI….

    Thanks Rafael a NY Friend!

  6. Vanberge Post author

    Yes – that is the setup I’m still currently using. works like a charm.

    the only thing that I wish were different would be if I could get Skype to show my Google Voice number. Which should work as Google voice accepts texts from web based sms gateways.

  7. Andrea Fahy

    I’m not having any luck setting my Google Voice to forward to Skype, any tips? simply receiving a “could not verify” message 🙁

  8. Vanberge Post author

    Do you have a skype online number?
    Does your number ever get the phone call? – or, does if fail to hear the key tones as you type the verification code.

    I would say try removing/re-adding your phone in the google voice settings page (and use a different name).

    If that doesnt work – you might try the forums – there are some prefixes that google voice has difficulty calling sometimes in order to place that verification call.

    Good Luck!

  9. jordan

    It is so awesome that we have this new home voip phone service so that it makes communicating that much easier! Is Skype the best one that is out there or should i be looking for something else that is better?

  10. Tod

    In response to Andrea – If you have Skype to only allow calls from people in your contact list you need to turn that off temporarily. The Google number that is calling your Skype land line isn’t in your contacts and isn’t being allowed through.

  11. Jones Lebond

    Okay so this is a little tricky. I have a Skype and a Google voice. I am going to Europe for two weeks and verizon’s international plan’s are quite expensive. Keep in mind I currently own an android as well. So I have many questions.

    1.How do you pay for Google Voice and Skype?

    2. For google voice do I have to bring my computer?

    3. I have heard that in order for google voice to work like skype, I will have to get an app called Groove IP or else google voice will charge on verizon’s international plan. Is this true? If not how can i make international calls to the US straight from my android without using verizon’s minutes?

    4. Where can I find rates from Europe to the US or is it the same from US to the European country?

    5. Is there a feature on Google Voice that makes it voip?

    6. Is skype ultimately cheaper and better for my situation?

    Thank You.
    Thank you. 🙂

  12. Vanberge Post author

    Here are answers as best as I can provide:

    1. I don’t pay for Google voice at all, and I just pay for a skype subscription and number.

    2. No, google voice just forwards calls for you. I had it set up to forward to my skype number, which would then ring at my computer (if skype was open) or at my phone which i have the skype adapter.

    3. Google voice doesnt work like skype – skype is a calling/voip type service and google voice really only just brokers the calls and connects them.

    4. I have no idea here and have never travelled internationally. Skype and Google both publish calling rates (as you can make calls directly within Gmail now, a new feature since this post had been written)

    5. Nope. Google voice by itself does no calling. But it can forward to your google talk/gmail which you can use as a voip client (use google talk client or gmail chat)

    6. I am not sure, you’d have to compare skype’s calling rates vs Google talk’s. Again, Google voice does nothing to make teh call for you; only deliver the calls to whatever service or device you’re using.

    Hope those help!

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