I love Google Voice, but since I travel a lot and Google Voice only routes to US-based numbers, I often find I can’t use it because I’m not connected to a US cell. However, using another great serivce – Rebtel (disclaimer: I used to work for them!) – together with Google Voice you can solve this problem (as well as do neat things like connect GV to Skype). Using them together gives you the following benefits:
1. All the benefits of Google Voice, but with ability of routing your calls to Skype or an international number
2. Ability to use Rebtel’s low call rates for international calls
3. Connect Google Voice and Skype through your Rebtel account
1. A Google Voice account (there are ways of getting one even if you’re not in the US)
2. A Rebtel account with Rebtel credit
3. An internet connection to initiate the Google Voice call – you can do this with the GV iPhone app or any slow internet connection (I’ve tried this in rural India on a CDMA data card with 5 kbps speed !)
Here’s how to set it up:
The set-up is slightly complicated is recommended only for advanced users. The benefits are that you can get Google Voice to ring any phone worldwide – great if you’re US-based and roaming and want your Google Voice to forward to an international local number or if you’re based outside of the US but still want the benefits of a Google Voice number.
Start on Rebtel.com:
1. Add your US-based Google Voice number as one of your “phones” in Rebtel & make this your primary number on Rebtel – you will need to confirm this number, which you can do on a stable internet connection through using Google Voice’s Google Talk connection or the US based number that you used to create your Google Voice account.
2. Add the cellphone that you want to receive calls on to your Rebtel Contacts. For me I added my Indian cellphone and now Rebtel will give me a US based number corresponding to this cellphone (since I am using my US Google Voice number as primary number for Rebtel)
Now, go to Google Voice:
3. Under General settings make sure that Google Voice is set to always display your Google Voice number – this is required for Rebtel to identify that your phone is the right one. This means that when anybody calls your Google Voice number will be the one displayed.
4. Edit your Settings on Google Voice and add a new phone to your Google Voice settings. Add the phone number that Rebtel gave you in step 2 (a US based number corresponding number to your local number).
5. Verify this new number with Google Voice – Google Voice will place a call through Rebtel to your local phone. This should work but might require a couple of attempts. If DTMF tones aren’t forwarded properly (Google Voice operator will say “Sorry, I didn’t get that”) you can try and route your Rebtel to your Skype account and use DTMF through there – this has worked according to my tests.
6. Remember to set the Rebtel number as active and have GV ring this number for incoming calls (as well as mark it as default for outgoing calls).
With that you’re ready to go! Any calls you make through Google Voice (on the iPhone app or through the web) will now be routed through Rebtel to any number you want. When I initiate a call through Google Voice it will route first to my Rebtel and then to the recepient phone – for US numbers GVoice is free and I pay only 1.79 cents to route through Rebtel to my Indian phone (when I’m in Sweden I can probably do a Rebtel “free call” meaning I could make free calls on my cell to US numbers).
Google Voice to Skype
For those of you who used Gizmo and were sad about it’s demise (and the demise of the functionality to route to Skype), Rebtel also comes in handy. Because Rebtel has a route-to-Skype feature, and because (if you followed the instructions above) you can route your GV to Rebtel, you can via Rebtel route GV to Skype. Simply follow the instructions here to set it up and any calls made to your GV will be going through Rebtel to Skype.
Cheap International Call Rates too…
A final tip is that you now can extend this to use Rebtel’s cheap rates when calling abroad (Instead of Google Voice’s rates). Sound quality is still excellent so no problems about routing it. Here’s how:
1. Add the contact you want to call to Rebtel.com’s “Contacts”, if you’ve followed step 1-5 you would now get a US-based number for this contact.
2. Go to Google Voice and initiate a new call calling the number Rebtel.com gave you. Since it’s a US-based number – this part of the call is free. Google Voice can connect the call on both ends through Rebtel – both to you (on your cellphone in a country like India) and to the counter party. You will pay only Rebtel call rates – once to your landline phone and once to your friend’s. I haven’t tried this but if both of you are in “Rebtel” countries, you should be able to make a Rebtel free call – meaning the entire call is free.
That’s it – I’ve used this successfully and the voice quality is great, even using the sometimes precarious Indian cellphone networks.