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Where is Google Heading with Gmail Calling?

Updated on December 27, 2012
What Are the Plans for Google Voice in 2013?
What Are the Plans for Google Voice in 2013?

Google Extends Free Calling in 2013

Google's Gmail calling service has proven to be extremely popular with users. Of course, chatting with another person using GTalk is old hat. Other services such as Yahoo! and Skype also provide exactly the same thing. Gmail calling is unique however in that it allows you to send and receive calls to a regular telephone within the US and Canada for free. The service is undoubtedly costing Google something – so why exactly are they not charging individuals for it? There is a lot of speculation on this. Perhaps it acts as an added benefit of Gmail that keeps customers locked in. Others speculate that it allows Google (with the permission of the users) to improve its voice-recognition and transcription capabilities by analyzing the huge amount of voice data that passes through it servers.

To me however the mystery of Gmail calling is not that it's free, but that Google is not making the full use of it. As most people know, Google Voice is a distinct and separate service that has not yet been fully folded into the Gmail calling application. There is only the bare minimum of interaction between the two. As of now, Google voice users can forward all incoming calls to the GTalk application if it's open. This allows users like me to make and receive free calls in the US and Canada to any regular PSTN telephone system. But there could be so much more!

To start off with, calls between any two Google voice numbers can be handled entirely over the Internet for free regardless of where the two individuals are located. After all, Google already knows who its subscribers are and implementing this functionality should be trivial for them. The second service is integration with SIP URIs. As of now, no third-party VoIP service can connect to Google voice even though it is well known that they use SIP URIs internally. In fact, they briefly enabled this service a year ago only to pull it later on. Why? For reasons only known to them.

Some say that Google is afraid of upsetting the telecom carriers who it depends upon to propagate its Android operating system. This might well be true and if so, is a searing indictment of how broken the telecom system is in the US. Rumors are of course swirling that Google is planning to roll out its own carrier network in late 2013. Google voice will probably play a large role in that.

But till then, as Gmail users we can continue to enjoy free calling in the US and Canada. None of this will be useful for professional businesses however. It's best if you obtain local Boston business VoIP services for enterprise needs with ease of VoIP administration and low-cost calling.


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