Thank you Google. I knew you could do it. Free voice, SMS, and MMS via Hangouts + Google Voice is a game-changer, turning my wireless carrier into the Wireless ISP they should be. Now we consumers who have stuck with you through years of neglect of Google Voice's promise can hold our WISPs responsible for data connection quality and stop getting distracted by texting, minutes, and other nonsense. Bits are bits.
Using some instructions I found on xda-developers (http://forum.xda-developers.com/nexus-4/general/guide-setup-asterisk-server-google-t2126964
) I had cobbled together a similar capability for free for a year. The problem was that it was unreliable in terms of voice quality. One moment, it was crystal clear, complete dropout the next.
I'm hoping you've been working on this capability while people like those who put those instructions up were tinkering. Having owned GrandCentral for many years, now, you should have all the codec, jitter, routing, capacity, and other issues worked out.
Now for the real question: Why? You've partnered with US wireless carriers in the past, even lobbied for exceptions to Net Neutrality when it comes to wireless service, and this free service has the potential to make many of their paid services utterly irrelevant. Google is a publicly-traded business with stockholders to answer to. The costs of providing free VOIP can't be hidden forever. You're not serving ads in the middle of my phone calls, so what's in it for you? What am I giving up that is implied somewhere in the fine print of the terms of service that you can make money on? Your users need to know this answer in order to trust the service. Changing phone numbers is disruptive these days. Are we signing up for a sustainable service or one that will be cut in a few months or years? We also need to trust that something nefarious isn't being done with this rich new volume of data we're providing you as we use your free service.