Today, Google announced Fiber Phone for its high-speed Internet subscribers in the U.S. The new offering will be added to the company’s existing Google Fiber lineup of Internet and television services.
Fiber Phone will cost $10 per month and comes with a hardware box called Fiber Phone box. The service is compatible with traditional phone hardware that works with landlines. Google describes Fiber Phone as having “familiar services, improved.”
Basic features include 911 emergency services, caller ID, call forwarding, and voice mail, which is based in the cloud and offers transcriptions sent to SMS and email. All calls in North America are free, while international rates will be the same as for Google Voice. Advanced features include call blocking and the ability to make and receive calls from mobile phones, tablets, and computers.
There are a number of competitors in the market for Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services in the U.S. Ooma, for example, sells a $99 device and offers a “free” consumer service that charges only local taxes and 911 fees of a few dollars per month. The Palo Alto company also provides VoIP business service using a $199 box.
Google argues that home phone service is still valuable to large swaths of the population. The company cites U.S. government figures showing that about half of all Americans still use a home phone. That percentage continues to shrink each year, but it still represents a sizable portion of the market.
Initially, Fiber Phone will be available only in select areas. “Over time, we’ll roll out Fiber Phone as an option to residential customers in all our Fiber cities,” Google said. There’s a sign up page to get updated on the roll out schedule as it progresses.
Google Fiber is currently offered in a limited number of U.S. cities, including Atlanta, Austin, Kansas City, and Provo. New cities will include Portland, Charlotte, Nashville, San Francisco, and several additional locations.