In keeping with the main goal of this site, I’ve been playing with several phone technologies during the past 6 months (inspired by this post from Tim I’ll be sharing my experiences, starting with Grand Central.

If you’ve got an interesting GC trick to share, please drop it in the comments!

In a nutshell, Grand Central gives you a new phone number that can be used to manage calls and voicemails with a bunch of slick features. General info and reviews about using the service can be found elsewhere, so I’m going to dive right into some lesser-known techniques.

Keep your old number

I’m not anxious to spread the word that I have a new phone number- at least not until I’ve used GC long enough to trust it and love whatever pricing arrangement they ultimately implement. GC pitches the service as the “stay with you forever” number, and perhaps it will be. But for now, I flip things around a bit; I forward my main mobile number to GC.

Talk to your computer

Gizmo was one of two tools I used to get free phone calls during our 2 months in Mexico. It’s a lot like Skype. All you need is a decent internet connection and a laptop with a built-in mic. Just initiate a call from within Grand Central and it’s all free; no $.85 per minute roaming charges. I did end up buying $10 worth of Gizmo credit for making calls to Mexico-based phones, which came in handy on a few occasions.

Golden for Small Businesses

Somewhere in the terms and conditions it clearly states that GC is only for personal use. I’m gonna go out on a limb and say that the reason is because it’s free beta software and they don’t want people abusing the system by having unreasonably high call volume or counting on rock-solid performance. That being said, I set up a GC number for one of our “muses”. My business partner generally handles the couple of support calls we get each week. Whenever he’s going to be unavailable, he just makes one click and the calls get routed to me. Note: GC used to disallow forwarding two different GC numbers to the same phone, but they’ve finally relaxed those restrictions a bit. It’s equally useful that we both have easy access to voicemails and recorded conversations.

Round trip

So what becomes of my main mobile number now that I’m forwarding it to GC? Actually, I forward back to it (as well as to Gizmo, my other mobile phone, and possibly a landline if applicable). If I want, I can make and receive all my calls on that primary mobile phone; everybody sees the same ol’ trusty number on their caller ID, but I get all the good lovin’ of GC for incoming calls. tip: make sure you have GC send you an SMS when you receive a voicemail- otherwise you won’t know you have one until you check your email.

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In part two we’ll cover the Hotspot @ home offering from T-Mobile