Google today launched a free service in the US called Google Voice that gives users access to all their phones, voicemail and text messages through one phone number.

The move is being seen as a threat to Skype – but also to telecom operators and technology firms.

Initially Google Voice will only be available to existing users of GrandCentral, a service Google acquired in July 2007.

But it is expected to be rolled out to the general public in the coming weeks.

Google says the application helps users manage their voice communications better by improving the way they use their phones.

It provides transcripts of voicemail and allows all SMS text messages sent and received to be archived and searched.

The service can also be used to make low-priced international calls.

Google says the new service will be similar to GrandCentral but with many new features.

GrandCentral gives users a single number to ring their home, work, and mobile phones, a central voicemail inbox that you can be accessed on the web, and the ability to screen calls by listening in live as callers leave a voicemail.

The service has been invite-only for nearly two years and has a sizeable waiting list.

It’s too early to say for sure whether Google Voice is the beginning of the end for operators as a "voice pipe".

What’s certain is that combined with Android it could begin to make life very interesting for them.

The fact yet more data could soon be passing through Google’s hands is also making privacy activists just a little concerned.

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