Google Fiber, where available, has been making inroads against traditional telecom companies, many of whom offer cable TV, high speed internet, and digital voice home phone services as part of a three-service bundle. Previously, the home phone landline service was not part of Google’s offerings, but now they have officially announced that they are going to provide phone service as part of their bundle as well.
More from the Washington Post:
For $10 a month, Google Fiber customers soon will be able to buy an add-on known as Fiber Phone — a service that, according to a company blog post, appears to mimic much of the functionality of Google Voice. Voicemail on Fiber Phone can be automatically transcribed and sent to your email. You’ll get unlimited domestic calling, as well as international calls at Google Voice’s rates. And you’ll have access to one phone number that can be set up to ring all of your phones — whether landline or mobile.
Google Fiber’s effort to draw in phone customers highlights how the company is becoming more like traditional service providers even as many telecom companies are looking to become more like Internet content firms. Even providers of cellphone service have been shifting their focus away from voice and toward the more lucrative provision of mobile data. Reports this week suggest T-Mobile may soon unveil new phone plan options that eliminate voice service entirely to give you a bigger bucket of data.
Fiber Phone fits within these trends in that it would help customers add some cloud-based functionality to their home phones. But it’s not immediately clear why consumers would pick Fiber Phone over Google Voice. The two services share many of the same features, but Fiber Phone carries a subscription cost and requires an at-home installation that you don’t need with Google Voice. In this respect, Google Voice might be considered a “better” service.
Google Fiber has been very successful in its pilot areas, but has yet to expand to the rest of the United States. It is hard to tell whether this phone addition will help or hurt the service as it looks to expand—currently Google Fiber is only available in one residential community near Stanford University in Palo Alto, along with the Kansas City, Austin, and Provo, UT metro areas, with plans to expand to Nashville, Charlotte, Raleigh-Durham, Atlanta, and Southern California.