Merging Two Phone Numbers into One Phone (device) Courtesy of Google Voice

I found myself in the position of having both a work phone and a personal phone. Aside from being the butt of many a meme, it was a pain in the arse lugging them both around, and the redundancy of the substantial added expense irked me. My company allows us to use our work phones, for personal use, if we limit our data usage and do not exceed our allotted minutes. Since I almost never talk on personal calls, and because the vast majority of my data usage is via WiFi, I felt it was time to look into making the move.

What had held me back was I did not want to part with my personal phone number. I’ve had it for years and it is linked to numerous account-recovery routines, where an SMS message will generate, if asked, to convey a code that allows one back into their account. In addition, should I ever change jobs, and lose access to the work phone — and the phone number it has, which belongs to my company — I did not want to have to go through the process all over again, of logging into every account linked to one phone number, changing it, sending messages to my contacts, letting them know my new number, etc.

Then I got to thinking. Back in 2006 or so I switched over to Google for my mail, tired of switching my email provider every time I switched cable TV services. In this way I got a single email address FOR LIFE. Why not do the same kind of thing for my PHONE NUMBER. A telephony provider or similar service seemed perfect.

Enter Google Voice.

I’d had a Google Voice account for years. I’d primarily used it when working or playing, in my basement, where cell coverage is spotty. Prior to Google Hangouts I would also use it as an alternate means of voice contact while playing old school PC games that did not contain their own voice engines. I hadn’t really utilized its features, but Google Voice always has held a dear place in my heart.

Long story short, here are the steps I followed to save my beloved phone number AND not screw with my work phone and its phone number:

  1. Obtain a free Google Voice account [In my case, this was done years ago].
  2. If multiple phones exist on your personal phone plan, change the primary phone number on the account. Because my family had more than just my [personal] phone on our account, I contacted my provider (Verizon) to disassociate my phone number as the account’s primary phone number. [This action is only possible via a phone call to Customer Service and is not available via their account tools online]. After doing so, I re-enrolled, on the provider’s web site, and associated my wife’s phone number as the account’s primary number. I did this so we would not lose access to our online account after I removed my [personal phone] from the account.
  3. Via Google Voice’s settings I ported my personal number into Google Voice. I PAID $20 for this, a ONE-TIME fee. The number is then forever — until I port it out, which I hope never to need to do — associated with my Google Voice account. [This action will wipe out my previous Google Voice number after a 90 day grace period. I do not care about that number, as no one really had it anyway, but if I wanted to keep it I could shell out another $20 and keep that one on the Google Voice account too.]
  4. Also in my Google Voice account, I added my work phone’s phone number as a ‘Forward calls to…’ destination. I opted to still be able to take calls on my other devices too (PC, for example).
  5. On my work phone I installed Google Voice and Google Hangouts (Hangouts is optional).
  6. In Google Hangouts’ preferences I turned on messaging, because I like Hangouts’ messaging over Google Voice’s messaging. It’s SMS and MMS. All good.

I can now:

  • Receive both work and personal numbers’ phone calls on my work phone.
  • Receive personal calls on my PC.
  • Work-text messages function normally on my work phone.
  • Personal-text messages function via Google Hangouts, on my work phone, Google Hangouts, on my PC…or any PC/Mac into which I am logged onto and upon which I want this to happen.
  • Voicemail messages to my personal number can be received in any of these same places.
  • Work-voicemails arrive on my phone in the usual fashion.

Bottom line: For $20, it was a no-brainer to save my personal phone number, as it will save me about $60/month, getting rid of my old personal phone (which I will sell), and I didn’t have to change everything that is associated to my personal phone number.

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