how did this get here I am not good with cell phone
August 21, 2013 8:12 PM   Subscribe

This is probably a question that has been answered before and I am just too panicky to figure it out right now, but what is the best option for saving my US phone number while I am abroad? Is Google Voice a solid option? I leave in two days, I use Virgin Mobile, and I want to save it indefinitely. Additional small side question about Swedish phones (specifically iPhone use in Sweden), but mostly confused about porting a number for usage abroad.

Can I port my number to a service like Google Voice the day I am set to leave and forward calls/texts to a Swedish phone number? I might be out of the US off and on for quite a while (will most likely be back next summer, but anticipate moving abroad again in the fall)--can I use GV on a cell phone when I'm Stateside and set it back to forward my calls when I leave, or is it one or the other?

My bonus little side question is, is it easy to get a Swedish phone number? Like, get-a-SIM-card-at-the-airport easy or is it slightly more complicated? Any specific companies I should avoid or use? Is data on an iPhone really expensive? I've never had a smartphone before (this iPhone was a recent gift that I haven't used) so I'm a little confused about the whole thing.

Please explain all this to me in incredibly simple terms. I've been looking through GoogleVoice help stuff, and while I'm generally a pretty smart individual, I'm really anxious and it's making me really confused about what are probably basic questions regarding forwarding calls/texts, potential costs, and whether I can leave this porting while I'm on my way abroad or whether I need to take care of this, like, yesterday (although I would prefer to have a phone for the last couple of days that I'm in the US).

What do, Metafilter, what do???
posted by Papagayo to Technology (11 answers total)
Porting your number to Google Voice will probably take a few days to process, but all the active steps you have to take to set it in motion in less than an hour. Do it the night before you leave, and you will likely still have use of your phone for the next day.
posted by thebestsophist at 8:26 PM on August 21, 2013

Google voice is a great idea, but it is not free (but also no expensive) to forward the calls to sweden. I ported 2 number thru GV and they both went off without a hitch.
posted by bensherman at 8:29 PM on August 21, 2013

The last time I tried to port my Virgin Mobile number to Google Voice I could not do it. That was about three years so things might have changed. If it's still not possible to port out of Virgin Mobile to Google Voice, I would consider switching to a Google Voice number and informing all my contacts of my new number. You don't have to forward calls to Sweden unless it's necessary that you respond to callers immediately. People can leave voice mails.
posted by rdr at 8:58 PM on August 21, 2013

Virgin Mobile USA does not work in other countries. I would try and sell your iPhone before September 10th, then use the money towards an unlocked GSM iPhone that will work in other countries.
posted by oceanjesse at 9:01 PM on August 21, 2013

Just fyi that my iPhone is not a Virgin Mobile phone (AT&T and already unlocked for international GSM use). Definitely would like to know if porting my VM phone number to GoogleVoice is possible nowadays or not.
posted by Papagayo at 9:06 PM on August 21, 2013

bensherman: "Google voice is a great idea, but it is not free (but also no expensive) to forward the calls to sweden. I ported 2 number thru GV and they both went off without a hitch."

Can you forward calls to an international number from Google Voice? The Google Voice FAQ says no ("Currently it's not possible to forward your calls to an international number.") but perhaps the FAQ is outdated.
posted by bluecore at 9:36 PM on August 21, 2013

No, it is still not possible to forward the calls to an international number.

If you have a Google Voice number and you install the Voice app on your (Swedish) smartphone, you will be able to text via a data connection, using your GV#, but not make/receive calls.
posted by knile at 2:26 AM on August 22, 2013

Definitely check whether ports are possible. It isn't related to which carrier it's coming from, it's related to which rate center the phone number belongs to. Basically, you can only port to rate centers that GV supports, which isn't anywhere near all of them.

That said, there are plenty of VoIP providers that have relatively cheap DIDs and take ports from more rate centers than Google does. I've had reasonably good luck with They charge $1 or $1.50 a month for numbers in most rate centers plus about 1c a minute. In many you can also choose to pay $5 a month and get unlimited (by which they mean around 3000ish minutes in the average month) incoming. You can forward internationally at whatever their international rates are, but I'd suggest putting Bria on your iPhone and using that instead.

I've also had good luck with Callcentric (including porting in numbers used only for call forwarding), although some people don't like them all that much because they only have one POP. Other than the Sandy outage, they've been more reliable than most in my experience, though, so I continue to use them.

Another option is to port to another cell carrier's prepaid, but don't bother with T-Mobile because they don't allow forwarding on prepaid direct accounts. The advantage to porting to another wireless carrier is that it's basically instant, while porting to a VoIP provider could take a couple of days to weeks since it's not a wireless to wireless port, which are the only ones required by law to be super-quick.
posted by wierdo at 4:15 AM on August 22, 2013

What I did last time I travelled for 2 months was buy a Skype local number and voicemail, then forward my phone to that. On an iPhone you can do this directly in the settings. Then whilst overseas, you just need some kind of internet connection and you can check your voicemails.
posted by shazzam! at 4:39 AM on August 22, 2013

I use Talkatone on my iPhone through Wifi/3G with my ported-to-Google-Voice number here in Spain. Since it is going through VoIP, sometimes the quality isn't the best (especially through 3G), but it is very manageable.

I make calls for free to the USA all the time with this. If you leave Talkatone signed in, you should theoretically be able to receive calls to your Google voice number from Sweden, as well.
posted by Nerro at 8:13 AM on August 22, 2013

Are you just looking to park the number while you're away? You might try (they are another sprint mvno like virgin is and they are excellent). It only costs $6/month to keep a line open with them, but IIRC you need either a ting or sprint phone (not virgin or boost) to do them and ask...their customer service is impeccable.
posted by sexyrobot at 11:14 AM on August 22, 2013

« Older Seen this GAP shirt?   |   Best way to get my girlfriend a Foreign Visa K2... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.