Rewind back to two years ago.
It's June 8, 2009 and Apple just announced the wildly popular iPhone 3GS ("the S stands for speed") with up to 32GB RAM, a 3MP camera and video capture - w00t! The 3GS actually began shipping on June 19, 2009 and with it began millions of two-year service contracts on AT&T Mobility.
Last Sunday, June 19, 2011, marked an important anniversary as a huge wave of AT&T contracts purchased by early iPhone 3GS buyers began to expire -- mine included. This left millions of early adopters of the 3GS with a decision to make:
- Stay with AT&T on your existing plan on a month-to-month basis. You can cancel/port at any time, as long as you account is "in good standing" (translation: paid in full). If you signed up for unlimited data for $30/month you can keep it by staying with AT&T.
- Port your mobile number to another carrier. If you spent the last two years complaining about your AT&T coverage or dropped-calls, here's your chance to jump ship. Verizon Wireless will gladly take you with open arms (and even ply you with unlimited data) but that's your only option right now if you want an iPhone. Rumors abound that T-Mobile and Sprint will be jumping on the iPhone bandwagon soon, so you could also hold out for one of them.
- Port your number to Google Voice and enjoy the freedom of controlling your own mobile number forever. Bear in mind that you still need a mobile phone service plan, number and handset to actually make mobile phone calls with Google Voice.
Most people will probably opt for the first option because staying with good ole AT&T is the path of least resistance (do nothing!). I'd highly recommend avoiding number 2 or any option that involves starting a new multi-year service contract with anyone. Apple's due to announce the iPhone 5 some time in the fall and if you're under contract you'll be forced to pay a heavy Early Termination Fee (ETF). AT&T's ETF is $325 minus $10 for each full month of your Service Commitment that you complete.
I chose option three and ported my mobile number to Google Voice because I already have another phone (with service) that I can easily use with my GV number. I love Google voice because it transcribes my voicemails and sends them to me as a push notification or text. I also love the flexibility of being able to use my GV number with any phone that I want.
More on my porting experience in a follow-up port...
ZDNet's own David Gewirtz has written two great post on Google Voice that I recommend:
- Google Voice: the ultimate iPhone how-to
- Google Voice: a step-by-step primer on ditching your land line while keeping your number