Google Voice Is Having Serious Trouble Making Outbound Calls. This Is Bad. (Updated)

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If you want to be a phone company you can’t go dead. Ever. People rely on their mobile phones for everything these days, so when calls aren’t going through it’s a really big deal. And as far as we can tell, Google Voice is currently having some serious issues.

Update, 12:15PM PST: After over an hour of issues, Google says that the problem should be resolved. Here’s Google’s statement:

“We had an issue this morning that affected some outbound calls placed through the Google Voice mobile app. Inbound calls or calls from the web were not affected, and the issue has now been fixed.”

Both Michael Arrington and I use Google Voice exclusively for our phone calls. And this morning, we simply can’t place calls: we’ll dial a number, hear the familiar rings as we wait for our contact to answer, and… nothing. The phone just keeps ringing forever — it never even gets to the recipient’s voicemail. The worst part is that most people probably don’t even realize that anything’s wrong, because when you initiate a call  it sounds like everything is working fine because you still hear those familiar rings.

We’ve tried a handful of different setups to figure out what’s going on. We’re both on Nexus Ones, so it’s possible (though unlikely) that the problem is associated with this handset in particular. Update: Based on comments below it’s affecting other handsets as well. When we place a call directly from our Nexus Ones, it actually does go through to the recipient, but it comes from a random number and when they go to pick up they hear silence.

We also tried initiating a call using Google Voice’s web interface (you enter the phone number you want to call, and it calls both your phone and your contact’s phone). This doesn’t work at all.

The only thing that does seem to work is Google Voice’s integration with Gmail. Which is great if you’re sitting at a computer, and useless if not.

The only consolation is that inbound calls are still working. Google is looking into the problem, and while it doesn’t seem to be affecting all users, there are clearly a significant number of people having this problem. Google has given us this statement:

“We’re aware of the issue, which is affecting some Google Voice users, and are working on a fix.”

This isn’t the first time Google Voice has had issues with reliability — it had a major outage back in April 2008, when it was still GrandCentral. I’ve also encountered sporadic problems over the last year that I’ve used it (though no worse than I used to have from AT&T).

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