Monday, November 29, 2021

Verizon charges $5 per month to make calls from Alexa using your mobile number

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Verizon’s new Number Share Home plan gives you the ability you make and receive calls from your Echo Show, Echo Dot, and Echo using your existing phone number, as noted in a post on Verizon’s website.

The feature costs an extra $5 / month, but Verizon will waive the fee for three months if you purchase an Alexa-enabled device through them. And if you already have an Alexa device that you’d like to use, Verizon will only give you one month for free.

Once enabled, you make hands-free calls in the same way that you’re probably already familiar with. Say, “Alexa, call [name],” or “Alexa, dial [phone number]” to make a call, and then say, “Alexa, answer,” when a call comes in. You can also use your device to contact emergency services with the “Alexa, dial 911” command.

When you place a call through your Echo device, your Verizon phone number will display on the recipient’s caller ID. Verizon also notes that you can switch between your Alexa device and a “Verizon-distributed Android mobile phone” during calls, but it remains unclear how to do so, as well as which devices that specific feature is available on. From the phrasing Verizon uses, it appears as if live call swapping excludes iPhones, as well as Androids not purchased through Verizon.

If you’re interested in setting up the service, you can connect your Verizon number with your Alexa account by opening the Alexa app and hitting “More.” Then, select “Settings” followed by “Communication.” From here, tap “Verizon,” and then follow the steps outlined on the screen. Amazon offers more details about the service on its website.

Echo devices already give you the ability to make free calls through its Alexa Communication feature, but it can be sort of limiting. While Alexa-enabled devices support unlimited phone calls to other Alexa Communication users, it only lets you call up to 10 phone numbers in the US, UK, Mexico, and Canada (excluding 911). Plus, you can’t receive incoming calls from regular phone numbers — it only supports inbound calls from other Alexa users.

Verizon’s Number Share Home plan lets you make as many calls from your Echo device as your mobile plan allows, and it lets you receive calls from anyone. Last year, AT&T rolled out a similar partnership with Amazon as an extension of its NumberSync program. This lets you make and receive calls from your AT&T number on Alexa-enabled devices, as well as from your iPad, Mac, and smartwatch. And unlike Verizon, AT&T’s NumberSync doesn’t tack an extra charge on top of your existing phone bill (aside from any data charges that you may rack up).

Verizon offers a separate plan to share your mobile number with any non-Alexa devices, called Number Share Mobile, which lets you make and receive calls from your smartwatch or Palm device at an added cost of $10 / month. Combining both of Verizon’s unbundled Number Share plans means you’ll be paying an extra $15 / month, which is more than you’d be paying on AT&T. The Verge reached out to Verizon about the possibility of a bundled Number Share plan in the future but didn’t immediately hear back.

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