Is your Google Voice voicemail broken? Or do you use multiple phone lines? A common issue among MVNO users is that their Google Voice voicemail no longer functions. For those using multiple phone lines, juggling multiple cell phones can require spider-like appendages. Both situations can go from complicated and dysfunctional to awesome by using a little known secret called “conditional call forwarding”.
Conditional call forwarding can transfer incoming calls to another phone line, based on certain conditions. What’s awesome is that you can customize the conditions triggering a forwarded call. So if your phone is turned off or busy, the call will transfer to another line or voicemail. This is extremely useful for MVNO users whose voicemail flips on before Google Voice’s voicemail does.
For example, if you can’t get Google Voice’s voicemail working, you can force unanswered calls directly into your voicemail. This is useful because some carriers, particularly MVNOs, don’t support integration with Google Voice; this method more or less forces compatibility.
Awesome Things You Can Do with Conditional Call (or Text) Forwarding
Call forwarding provides a simple means of sending your calls to another number whenever certain conditions are met – such as if your phone is turned off or busy. Currently, my favorite method sends unanswered calls to my Google Voice voicemail. Google Voice then transcribes the message into text, which allows me to avoid the costs of downloading a recorded message over my extremely expensive data plan.
You can set up conditional forwarding by finding the correct Man-Machine Interface (MMI) codes from your carrier, then inputting these into your phone’s dialer (the GSM codes below were shamelessly cribbed from Wikipedia). You can also eliminate codes that you no longer use by typing in the “Cancel and Deregister” code, which is specific to each kind of forwarding service.
These MMI codes allow you to:
- Forward calls to another number if your phone is busy;
- Forward calls to another number if you don’t pick up a call;
- Forward calls to another number if your phone is disconnected from the cellular network;
- The last forward service “all conditional forwards” combines all the forwarding services, so if any of the above conditions is true, your call will automatically transfer to your second phone line;
- And quite a bit more!
Requirements of Conditional Call Forwarding:
Getting conditional call forwarding working requires that you have a cellular network connection. Essentially, you will be digitally telling your carrier that you want to forward calls on certain conditions by using MMI codes. If you lack a cellular network connection, this will prove impossible. Also, if you screw the codes up or input the wrong ones, you might cause some harm to your device, requiring that you speak to a representative.
How to Enter a Code:
First, find the correct code for your carrier and network. There are several kinds of codes used internationally. GSM codes tend to be ubiquitous in Europe and the US, fortunately. Make sure you find out your carrier’s codes before proceeding.
Second, once you’ve found the right code, input it into your dialer as shown below:
Third, hit the dial button. And again, make sure you have a network connection.
The code **62*5555555555# includes the code and the number you’re forwarding to. Also notice that I inputted both the deregistration (right pane) and the registration (left pane) for the “if out of reach” forward service.
After finishing activation of a code, from then on, whenever your phone isn’t connected to the network, calls will forward to the number specified, like voicemail, VOIP line, or routing service (such as Google Voice). In my example, I use the fictional “555-555-5555″ to represent my Google Voice number; however, you should use whatever number you want to forward to.
Also some networks use one or two asterisks at the beginning of the code. It depends on whether or not the number you’re forwarding to is registered with the network that you’re using. If you get an MMI code error, try changing the number of stars to either one or two. So, for example, change the **62*[phone number] or *62*[phone number].
Not All Roses
It’s not all roses – first, conditional forwarding can require a few minutes to setup. Second, its method of implementation may vary in countries outside the US and Europe. Third, conditional call forwarding might come with added costs from your carrier, particularly if you do not properly set it up. Fourth, and most important, if you screw the codes up or misapply them, you may end up forwarding all calls to another line.
However, once you get it working right, forwarding some calls can seriously improve the usability of your phone. It’s particularly useful for people who have multiple phone lines, voice message boxes, voicemail transcription services, VOIP/SIP lines and more.
Differences Between Unconditional and Conditional Call Forwarding
Before explaining how to set up your conditional call forwarding, first let me point out that conditional call forwarding differs from regular “unconditional” forwarding, which sends all your calls to another phone number: Unconditional forwarding is a big hassle because it requires setting it up and shutting it down every time it’s needed. Conditional forwarding can be set up once and forgotten, thus, it’s easier to use. However, it does have some drawbacks:
- Increased costs: Conditional call forwarding also tends to double the cost of your calls. So if you pay five cents per minute, forwarded calls’ cost will increase to ten cents per minute. Some carriers will tack on a surcharge for using any kind of call forwarding.
- Incompatible with some plans or carriers: Some carriers will not allow you to use conditional forwarding, although most do permit it.
- Some MVNOs offer incomplete access to conditional call forwarding: Some MMI codes might work and others may not.
If you have any issues with Google Voice’s answering service, consider using conditional call forwarding. While you may pay slightly more by using a forwarding service, it prevents you from missing important voice mails. Alternatively, if you use a SIP, VOIP or voicemail transcription service, forwarding can transfer otherwise missed calls to a Skype line.
Does anyone else have problems with Google Voice’s voice mail service? Let us know in the comments.