August 5, 2009

US Soldiers Given Google Voice for Free

On Tuesday, Google recruited US soldiers to use its Voice online telephone service, promising it would help soldiers stay connected to their families at home.

Google Voice allows users to merge home, office and mobile phones into a single number through Internet telephony technology.

The service also allows free SMS messages, inexpensive international calls, and transcripts of voicemail messages.

"For servicemen and women who are constantly on the move, having a single number and an easy way to retrieve messages from loved ones can be invaluable," said Army Sergeant Dale Sweetnam, who is helping Google as part of a fellowship program.

"Loved ones can call to leave messages throughout the day, and then when that service member visits an Internet trailer, all the messages are right there. It's like a care package in audio form," he told the AFP.

Google is offering the service at no charge to soldiers.  If they have a .mil email address they can sign up at google.com/militaryinvite.

"I signed up for an account when I came to Google, and it's already making communications much easier here in the States," Sweetnam said in a message posted on Google's website.

"I know when I return to combat; Google Voice will help make life a little more manageable."

Google began expanding its Voice service membership on an invitation basis in June. 

According to the California-based company, soldiers who sign up for the service will get first priority and have a fully functional account within 24 hours.

Currently, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is investigating a decision by Apple and AT&T to reject a Google Voice application created for use on Apple's iPhone.

According to FCC chairman Julius Genachowski, "inquiry letters" were sent to Apple, AT&T, and Google on Friday concerning the matter.

The FCC wants to obtain all necessary data to make the best policy decision for the American people, Genachowski said.


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