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Set up Google Voice in Canada – Free Long Distance

Google Voice Overview

Google Voice is one of the greatest innovations in telephony. I am a huge fan of it and I have used it to pretty much nullify my phone bills, or at least drastically reduce them. Google Voice fixes many of the annoyances that people have with telephones now, as well as helps to use current communication technology to connect us at a very low price.

Some of the things I hate doing is checking my voicemail through the phone system and monitoring how many text messages or daytime minutes I have left. I particularly hate not knowing if a call is going to cost me long distance charges or not. I’ll show you how to use some of Google Voice’s features to reduce your telephone costs in Canada and in the US including getting free long distance in Canada (even from your cell phone) and getting a telephone line at home through VOIP (data).
This post will be about how to set up your Google Voice account, even when you are not in the US.

Some of my favorite features of Google Voice are:

    Free Long Distance calling
between US and Canada
    Unlimited text messaging
    Transcribed voicemail

You can check out all the great features of Google Voice here.

Google Voice is a service that has been designed for people in the US to have cheaper telephony. As a result, it is not “supported” for use in Canada and there are some extra steps required to set it up when you are outside the US.

The steps are as follows:

    Ensure you have a US phone number
    Ensure you have a US IP address
    Set up a Google Voice account at voice.google.com


1. Ensure you have a US phone number

If you already have a US phone number where you can receive a phone call or a text message (not a Google Voice number) then you can skip this step. If you don’t have a US number, then there are a few different ways to get one.

My personal suggestion (and the one I will walk you through getting) is through Voxox. Voxox is a service that will give you a US based number for free and will forward any calls or texts from that number to your email or to a Canadian phone number. If you are in Canada, I suggest getting this service because having it will open up some of the other features that Google Voice has.

When you set up Voxox, you will need to ensure that you have either forwarded it to a phone that you will be able to answer or to an email address that you will have access to.

Note that it actually doesnt matter what your Voxox number is. You are not going to be giving this number to anyone other than Google Voice. The only reason you are getting this number is to make your foreign (Canadian) phone number look like a US number. You will ultimately give out your Google Voice number to your friends and family (see the third step)


    Go to www.voxox.com
    Sign up for a new account
    Verify your email address
    Verify a cell phone through text messaging / SMS
        I have not been able to set up a phone using the web interface so the only way I have been able to do this is through the desktop
    Download and install the desktop software
        There are options for Canadian numbers, but make sure to choose a US number (the State doesn’t matter)
    Select a free US number
    Send all calls to your cell phone
    Turn off the voicemail and other general settings
    Turn off text message forwarding


2. Ensure you have a US IP address

To set up a Google Voice account, Google needs to think you are physically in the US. You can check the IP address you are using by going to http://www.iplocation.net/. If the country is United States, you can skip this step. If you are not in the US and need to trick Google into thinking that you are, you can use many services, including private VPN services and IP blockers. The one that I will walk you through is HotSpotShield, which is a free download available here and will give you a US IP address.

See the screenshots for a walkthrough on the steps you need to take to set this up.


    Check your IP location
        If it is not United States, you will need HotSpotShield
    Download and install HotSpotShield
    Choose the appropriate settings
    Confirm your IP location is United States


3. Set up your Google Voice account at voice.google.com

You can set up a new Google account or tie it to an existing Google (gmail) account. Once you have logged in to your Google account and navigated to voice.google.com, you will be directed to accept the terms and conditions and then verify your phone number. The phone number that you verify will have to be the US based number that you set up in step 1.

Once you have verified your phone number, you will be prompted to choose your Google Voice number. Most people likely won’t care what area code they get and if you don’t then I suggest choosing a number that spells out your name or matches the last 4 of your current phone number or is somehow easy to remember or is just a lot of fun.

Pointster’s Pointer – Select your phone number type as Home number. This way texts sent to your Google Voice number will come to your cell phone via the app (data) instead of via text message. Your replies to text messages sent from your phone will show your cell number, while messages sent from the app will show your Google Voice number.

NOTE: I was unable to get this to work using Google Chrome. I strongly suggest using Firefox or Internet Explorer for this piece

    From a US IP Address (see step 2), go to voice.google.com
    Sign in to your Google (gmail) account, or sign up for a new one
    Get a new Google Voice number
    Verify your number by giving a US phone number
    Your US phone number will be the Voxox number that was set up in step 1
    Select type as a Home number
    Select a number you like

Congratulations! You now have a US based phone number and more importantly, access to all the features of Google Voice. The whole process should take you about 10 minutes. Without any changes, any calls to your Google Voice number will ring on your cell phone.
Recap:

    Get a US phone number from Voxox
    Get a US IP address using HotSpotShield
    Sign up for and verify your account at voice.google.com

Set up your Google Voice account now and in the next post I’ll show you how to use Google Voice to get free long distance on your cell phone.

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