Google announced Google Voice back in 2009 which gives you one number for all your phones, voicemail as easy as email, free US long distance, low rates on international calls, and many calling features. A recent patent application from Microsoft describes the same feature where a universal phone number is provided for a user with fixed line, mobile line, and internet communication methods. Microsoft already owns a great universal communication tool called Skype through which hundreds of millions of users make audio and video calls everyday. Any integration with Skype and this universal number concept should attract many users. Read the patent abstract below.
A universal phone number is provided for connecting to communication methods, including fixed line, mobile line, and internet communication methods. A communication group of communication methods may include multiple communication methods belonging to one individual or to multiple individuals within the communication group, such as a family. The universal phone number may be designated as the primary contact number for the communication group such incoming phone calls and text messages may be automatically routed to the communication methods in the communication group. The universal phone number may provide alerts to the multiple communication methods for notifying when incoming phone calls are answered. A universal voicemail box may also be provided for a scenario when the incoming call is not answered. Additionally, the universal phone number may provide the ability to keep the contact information for each of the individual communication methods private.