One number to rule them all
June 18, 2012 5:28 PM   Subscribe

I need a single phone number that I can use worldwide that doesn't cost an arm and a leg.

I'm more than ready to kick my crackberry habit and make the move to Android (probably an unlocked Samsung Galaxy S3). And now that the whole family's phones are out of contract I want to kick the t-mobile habit as well and change to a no-contract MVNO (probably simplemobile).

The problem is none of the GSM MVNO's offer international roaming plans (phone), let along unlimited international data (which I can get for $20/month from t-mobile). I'm prepared to buy a local SIM card for each of the countries I typically visit. But I can't keep changing phone numbers. I need a single (USA) number that I can setup to forward to whatever international number comes with the local SIM card. Google voice would be probably perfect but it won't forward to an international number.

So what solutions are there?
- Single USA phone number
- At low cost reaches an Android phone worldwide
- Caller ID is always the USA number
- Able to send/receive texts
- Unlimited or at least 1GB international data
- Preferably without any contract
- Use of local SIM cards is fine.
posted by Long Way To Go to Technology (7 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
You can use both Skype and Google Voice to do this.
You can also do it with RingCentral.

both Skype and Google voice allows you to buy a number for people to call you and
for you to designate one or more numbers that that the service will call.

So you get your new sim, update the number in Skype/GV and you are good to go.
posted by digividal at 6:41 PM on June 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

Have a look at Skype To Go. I'm in the UK, but my SO is in the US for a couple of months, and we've both set one up. Now we can speak to each other for the price of a local call plus about 1p a min.
posted by Magnakai at 8:16 PM on June 18, 2012

I was just researching this today, thanks to this question. Check out either or Callcentric (Callcantric has unlimited plans that may prove useful). Once you have service with either of those providers, you can use a softphone (available for any smartphone, pc, or just about any other general computing device) when you have internet/wifi/3g/4g, or when you don't, you can set call forwarding to whatever local sim card you've picked up.

The catch that I keep running into is SMS. Vitelity offers SMS service, but its pricing doesn't seem to be exectly geared towards the home user. I'm still not sure how to manage that. Email or twitter don't quit cut it.

Good luck with your search!
posted by Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug at 9:15 PM on June 18, 2012

I should be sleeping, but I just discovered Voxox which seems to do everything Still looking into it (it may or may not work with SIP clients/softphones), but it looks intriguing.
posted by Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug at 11:33 PM on June 18, 2012

Thanks everybody - but this is frustrating! none of these options is exactly what I need, though a couple come close.

A Skype online# would forward to the Skype client on my Android phone. Its $60 per year. It's not possible to port a mobile# to Skype, so I would have to forward my USA mobile# to my Skype online# when I left the country. Doesn't work for incoming SMS to the USA mobile#. You can also setup Skype to forward to an international# but it can be expensive ($0.215/min to an Irish mobile# for example).

Voxox doesn't have an Android client - its more than a year since they launched an iOS client. It really just seems to be a desktop solution. Not sure why it's any better than Skype. and Callcentric seem to be just commercial VOIP providers. The web page is clearly not aimed at the general public. So basically you pay twice, once for the mobile data plan and then again for the VOIP over the data network. Also no SMS. Seems like these are just solutions for old landlines.
posted by Long Way To Go at 11:31 AM on June 19, 2012

FWIW, when I travel I just have people call me and leave a message on my google voice number. Google then essentially sends me an email-like transcribed version of the message, and then I decide if I need to call them back using a destination-appropriate VOIP service.

It's not ideal, but it works and is consistent from one continent to the next.

My experience has been with Android phones, and they have several widgets that put these transcribed messages on the home screen. I'm assuming they have something similar for iPhones and possibly even windows phones.
posted by Blue_Villain at 2:10 PM on June 19, 2012

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