Divide By Zero

Rants, Gadgetry & Boring Ole Philosophy

Making Google Voice Work After Moving To Canada

Written By: Tyler Style - May• 17•10

UPDATE: As of December 2011, this hack no longer works.  Google no longer allows 403 area code numbers.

So, I admit that I have been completely absorbed by the Googleplex. And… I kind of enjoy having a Google-centric life, actually. So when I moved to Canada and faced giving up my Google Voice, I cringed and cried and wept piteously.

And I did NOT leave denial and move into acceptance!  Instead, I plotted and schemed and conspired to bend Google .. itself! … to my will!  Muhahahaha!  They called me mad at the Sorbonne… mad, I tell you – MAD!

So!  After a few hours of research, I had some good leads. After a couple of false starts and some experimentation, I found what seems to be the optimal (and cheapest!) solution.

While you can definitely adapt this method to your own needs, bear in mind it was originated for my own situation: having a US cell phone with a Canada/US calling package and an unlimited Canada/US data plan ($147/mo from Verizon on my DROID).  That being said, onward to the good stuff!

Getting a Google Voice number

Since I already had Google Voice from when I was living in the US, I didn’t have to spoof my IP to be able to register an invite. If you’re reading this in hopes of copying my set up, there are plenty of tutorials on how to use public web proxies like hotspot shield to make it look like you’re in the US. And the method I’m going to describe DOES let you register with Google Voice without having to get an US ph#.

The 403 area code hack + FreePhoneLine.ca

There is some quirk in GV that lets it accept 403 numbers, so I went to FreePhoneLine and registered for a 403 area code number (Calgary). They also have a Skype-like softphone you can download and install if you like that sort of thing, but I didn’t bother as I don’t need it.  (plus it was Win or Mac only anyway)

I then went into the “followme settings” for my account, and set the FollowMe mode to “Always Forward” and added my local landline’s 780 phone number as the FollowMe number. To make sure GVoice picked up for vmail and not FPL’s native service, I set the “Number of seconds [to ring before going to vmail]” to 72. GV vmail picks up after 30s.

This actually didn’t work the first few times and I had to contact tech support. They did a reset on their end that they said should work. I tested, and no joy. However, when I retested it after changing “Number of seconds” to 70, it suddenly worked.Hopefully it will continue to do so.

I then proceeded to register my 403 number directly in Google Voice.  Which was sweet! I wasn’t sure til then that this hack hadn’t been blocked by Google. Calling my GV# worked beautifully, ringing my Canadian landline and US cell phone no problem.

Fooling GV into ringing when my 780 ph# is called

Getting a 780 ph# that people could call and ring my Google Voice number was a bit more tricky. I went to DIDww and got myself a 780 area code DID (basically a virtual ph#). I then created a “mapping” (basically a definition of how an incoming call should be handled). I tried several methods to loop the ph# back to my FPL number, but eventually gave up and just defined it as PSTN (a regular telephone line) and forwarded it to my GV#.  This costs me $19.95/mo, but so would a regular landline so no real loss there.  It’s actually a little better than a landline, as I get free calling anywhere in the US and Canada.

The only real downside to this method is that my DIDww ph# acts like a landline. (ie), if someone texts that ph#, I won’t get their text. Still, a very minor bobble in my book as most people get international texts for free with the mobile plans here in Edmonton anyway.  And if people just reply to my texts, then they’ll never notice.

The real beauty of it

The best part of all this is that with DIDww’s virtual phone numbers, I can have a local phone number in any part of North America (and quite a few other places besides) for just $19.95/mo each.  This means that if I leave Edmonton and move to, say, Vancouver, my friends can still call my 780 ph# and have no long distance charges on their phone bills!  After I move, I just get another DIDww virtual number for a Vancouver area code for local calls from my new friends and clients for $19.95/mo. BEAUTY!

I can also get a ph# in Van from some telco (actually not necessary, but I use it for testing phone systems) and then forward my FPL ph# to it to get Google Voice calls on my new landline, just as I had done in Edmonton – easy as pie!  EXTRA BEAUTY!

So until Google finally gets around to offering Voice in Canada, this is a pretty sweet set up for me and all my contacts.  Most cool, eh?

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24 Comments

  1. Too bad I can’t use my invite here in the Philippines

    • samandiriel says:

      Well, you could, but you would wind up paying LD charges anyway :( It works for me because both GV / my virtual ph# provider have free/$5 per month unlimited Canada/US calling. The only people it would benefit would be people calling you from the USA, as you would foot the LD charges rather than them.

      Have you thought about setting up your own Asterisk box instead, or trying a hosted PBX company like http://www.sipgate.com/one or https://www1.pbxes.com/iptel_virtual-pbx.html? Dunno if they service the Philippines or not, but there might be a similar local provider.

  2. I will sure look into this option. Hope you don’t mind helping me out should I have any follow up questions on this. haha Well basically I just need a solution that will enable me to call to US at a lowest rate possible and would allow my client to call at the lowest possible rate as well.

    • samandiriel says:

      Feel free to ask away, Jonha – happy to help out if I can!

      BTW, have you looked at Skype as a solution as well? Pretty cheap rates, and you can again use a virtual ph# to manage it and forward incoming calls to a real ph# (about US$5.50/month)

  3. Joseph P says:

    Hello Samandiriel,

    I am little confused, why would you need a DIDww to get a #780 area code when you can easily get one from Google voice under the setting menu?

    • samandiriel says:

      Hullo Joseph! I don’t want to change my GV ph# as I’ve already distributed it to several hundred people. If I change it to a 780 ph#, then all those contacts will no longer be able to get ahold of me.

      However, with the DIDww forwarding, I have a ‘local’ number that people in northern Alberta can call and it will still ring my GV phones. Getting another number and registering my phones with it won’t work either, as you can only register your main cell phone with a single Google Voice number.

  4. Joseph P says:

    Hello SamanDiriel,

    Ah! Thx for clarifying the reason. Instead of using a DIDww number and paying for $19, why don’t you go to http://www.freephoneline.ca/ and get a 780 number for free? You can then just add “50 countries worldwide for $13.95″ which includes the U.S, then forward to your US number. Under the follow me settings.

  5. Joseph P says:

    You know what I just checked and scratch that, it those not allow Forwarding to US numbers. lol My bad

  6. I think VOIP.ms offers the same service as didww at substantially lower rates. I’ve been using them for over a year now.

  7. Joseph P says:

    Hey Just wanted to let your reader know of my website, to see different options on the Google Voice.

    http://www.sxymobile.com/news/google-voice-canada-outgoing-incoming/

    Thx, Joseph P

  8. samandiriel says:

    FYI, according to Joseph’s research the $0.01/min to Canada is an error – US/Canada calls are still free! Whew.

  9. joe c says:

    I am trying to get this done the other way around…I have a toronto 416 cell phone (rogers-yuck) that I use in the USA on ATT for about $500 per month factoring in usage charges, extra overpay charges, ted-rogers memorial service charges, ted-rogers handset charges (you want to make calls -right?), ted wants to screw every canadian charges, and bell-charges-extra-so-why-not-rogers additonal surcharges.
    I need to be able to forward my 416 rogers hanset to my verizon phone, without long distance charges, and since google-V does not allow non-us #’s, I guess I could register a 403 area code with GV, forward my 416 to the 403, and then at verizon register the google number as 1 of the 5 free #’s.
    This would only incur candian long distance charges (the 416 to the 403), which I have a $5 plan for with rogers (it was in place before he died and the kids forgot to close it),so all in all this is not bad.
    Any comments?
    joe

    • Tyler Style says:

      Hey Joe! Your plan sounds like it should work, and your $5/mo Canada long distance plan sounds pretty sweet! I’m jealous.

      I know of another possible alternative you could try. In the US, Cox Communications (Business) will ‘virtualize’ your phone number so that it just forwards all calls to another number for a few dollars a month. If Rogers does that same thing, You might be able to get a cheap international minutes plan, forward your phone directly to your US phone number and skip the 403 number altogether. You might want to talk to Rogers in both the consumer and business departments and see if you can get something similar going on. That way you could quite worrying about the Canadian handset altogether, if you no longer actually need it.

      Lemme know how it turns out for you!

    • bobmutch says:

      Joe, Just get a local 416 number with MagicJack, forward your current 416 cell number to the MagicJack number and forward the MagicJack number to your GV number.

      This way you pay no long distance charges. Also your $5/mon Rogers long distance is only 1000 minutes or 16.7 hours. Thanks only 30 minutes a day.

      The MagicJack cost $20 a year for the first 6 years and $13.80 a month after than. (Hardware with 1 yr service $45 onetime, 416 phone number $10 one time, extra 5 years of service $69).

      Bob.

      • Tyler Style says:

        MagicJack is kind of skeevy, and I’m unsure as to their long term viability myself. However, you can do the same thing with Skype and more cheaply. The main problem with it is that call quality generally suffers – there is significant time lag between when you speak and when the other person hears what you said when calling Canada already, and Skype/MagicJack adds to that.

  10. prairiehorse says:

    I am in the same boat as you. I have the droid 2 out of the US, but am also living in Vancouver. I need to see how to use SIP or GV to get a vancouver 604 number. I dont want to run off wifi, but data since i have an unlimited data plan out of the US throughout North America. Is there any way without paying the $20/month for the 604 number? Thanks
    PS: please go slow and detailed if you reply with any as i am not real good with this yet.

    • Tyler Style says:

      Hey buddy. Unless your phone has a SIM card that you can replace with a Canadian one, I don’t know of a way around it. You’ll also need to unlock your phone – you need to contact Motorola to do that. You can try using a straight SIP phone app and using your data plan, but I haven’t researched that very much so can’t really help you there.

      • prairiehorse says:

        OK. So if i use the sip app it should still use my minutes, but not charge me for out of US (canada to canada) usage? Correct?

  11. Andre says:

    If you were to setup your DIDww number to forward to Google Talk, wouldn’t this ring your Google Voice account which is tied to Gmail/Google Talk?

  12. Severin says:

    I have used a Magicjack with Google Voice for over a year and I am very happy with the combination of twenty dollars a year for unlimited outgoing calls on my android phones! And I think the voice delay is reduced in severity or perhaps I have become used to it. I recommend an extra dose of patience when you set up a Magicjack though since some settings are only accessible using Internet Expl*rer! Oh, and Canadian numbers are thirty dollars a year. But since that is ten percent of a typical bill I have a lot of patience for Magicjack. Though http://www.freephoneline.ca may be superior for all I know.

    • Tyler Style says:

      The delay on GV has certainly improved – I think they’ve had enough time to increase capacity to meet load after the initial surge when they opened it to everyone.

      FreePhoneLine.ca, if you can manage to snag a 403 number, works like a charm for me. No lag, dropped calls or choppy voice – I’ve been very happy with it, and it’s free!

      Speaking of MagicJack and the like, I was just yesterday looking at a really neat new dedicated VOIP to POTS appliance that does Google Voice to boot: the OBi100. It’s a $50 one time cost, and you just plug it into your router, configure it for your GVoice account, plug in a plain old telephone, and it acts as a VOIP gateway with analog translation. Handy for a home phone if you don’t always lug your cell phone with you around the house.

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