FREE telephone service!* FREE phone number!* Tons of features!
The OBi phone adapter and Google Voice can be combined to create a great free* VoIP home phone service with a lot of features. The system easily surpasses Vonage and Comcast VoIP offerings. It takes some technical skills to set up and the future of the service is a little cloudy – Google may yank support of the OBi and start charging for Google Voice. But those clouds aside, the service is working very well for me.
The two pieces that make this work are Google Voice and the OBi phone adapter. Google Voice is a feature rich telephone service. Google Voice includes a free telephone number (US only), free* local and US long distance, voice mail, voice mail transcription, SMS texting and flexible incoming call routing. The missing piece for Google Voice to be a complete home VoIP service was an easy way to make and receive telephone calls from your home phone. Presently you make and receive calls from your PC or you must have phone service (landline or cell) to receive incoming calls or call first to Google Voice then call out to your destination. The OBi phone adapter is the missing piece – the OBi allows placing and receiving phone calls with the home phone.
Feature rich Google Voice and OBi phone adaptor
Google Voice has many features including
- Incoming calls can ring one or more numbers or devices
- Voice mail
- Voice mail voice to text transcription with texting and/or emailing the transcription
- SMS texting, send, receive, forward to cell phone
- Free local and US long distance
- Low cost international long distance
- Google Voice Apps for iPhone and Android
- Advanced call handling like routing, screening, personalized greetings, conferencing, recording, switching phones during calls, etc
OBi phone adaptor has features including
- Make and receive phone calls from the home phone via Google Voice
- Setup is optimized for Google Voice interoperability
- Free OBi to OBi device calls anywhere in the world
My setup – Google Voice, OBi110 and iPhone
I have a Google Voice number, an OBi110 phone adapter, cordless phone and an iPhone.
I have it set up so incoming calls to my Google Voice number simultaneously ring my home phone and my iPhone. I can answer either device. Unanswered calls go to Google Voicemail.
Calling my cell number only rings my cell phone. Unanswered cell calls go to Google Voicemail.
Google Voicemail is transcribed (voice to text) and the transcription is texted to my cell phone and emailed to my Gmail account. The email also contains a link to the voice message.
My old landline (a magicJack Plus) is plugged into the OBi110 so calls to that old number ring on the home phone. Unanswered calls go to magicJack voice mail and notice is emailed to my Gmail account.
Notes on setting up Google Voice and OBi phone adapter
- Get a Google Voice account (requires a Gmail account) and pick a phone number.
- Visit obihai.com and read all about the OBi devices and features.
- Buy an OBi100 or OBi110, currently available at Amazon for $44 and $50 respectively. The OBi110 offers more features like connecting a landline and bridging to it.
- Hooking up your OBi
- Connect an Ethernet cable from your router to the Ethernet port on the OBi.
- Connect your analog phone to the phone jack.
- Optional for the OBi110 – connect a landline to the line port.
- Plug in the power.
- Configure (and manage) your OBi device at obihai.com
- Create an account at obihai.com and log in.
- Add device. (your OBi should be all connected and ready to go). Pick up the phone and dial the **5…. number when instructed and follow on screen instructions.
- Modify any parameters you wish, such as device name, password, local time zone then save. OBi will reboot.
- Configure OBi for Google Voice. On the dashboard, click on your OBi device, select Service Provider 1 and select Google Voice, enter your Gmail username and password. Note the warnings about making a call with Gmail and 911. Click submit.
- In Google Voice, Settings,
- Check the box Forward calls to Google Chat.
You are now set up for basic Google Voice and OBi phone adapter connectivity.
Some settings to integrate your iPhone more tightly-
- In Google Voice Settings –
- Add your cell phone and any other phone numbers that you may want to ring or forward calls to.
- Optional iPhone voicemail/text integration: check both Receive text messages on this phone and Notify me of new voicemails via text. Click the link Activate Google voicemail on this phone and follow the instructions (dial the number sequence).
- Optional iPhone call handling: Settings, Phones, for your iPhone click Edit, Click the link Show advanced settings, Forwarding Options: Go straight to voicemail
- On the iPhone
- Install the Google Voice App.
- In the iPhone App Google Voice, Settings, This phone’s settings turn Text forwarding on.
- To receive voicemail notifications by email, text and transcripts, in Google Voice –
- On the Settings tab Voicemail & Text you can enable Voicemail Notifications by email, Text Forwarding and Voicemail Transcripts.
Experiment with the settings to find what works for you.
Summary of advantages of OBi/Google Voice
- Free, after you buy the Obi device and Google Voice service is free (2012)
- Free incoming telephone number, incoming phone call handling
- Lots of features for call routing like simultaneous phone number ringing,
- Lots of features for voice mail handling like voice to text transcribing, texting the transcription, emailing the transcription and attached wav file
- Google Voice tightly integrates with Google Chat, you can make and receive calls via Google Chat but requires a PC with speakers and microphone
- Tight integration with ATT iPhone, voicemail will go to Google Voice when you activate it: *004*yournumber1areacodenumber# – deactivate: ##004#
Summary of Disadvantages of Obi/ Google Voice
- Google Voice may start charging an unknown amount of money for a subscription after 2012
- Google may block the OBi devices rendering them nonfunctional
- No 911 support in Google Voice (911 may be configured with bridging to a landline or other VoIP)
- Outgoing Caller ID is a geographical name, ie the city that you chose for your phone number and is not presently configurable
- Human telephone support is non-existent
- Google is collecting information about you
Obi to Obi calls (OBiTALK) are free worldwide.
Calls can be routed by dialing a prefix:
**1 Voice Service Provider 1 Google Voice Default
**2 Voice Service Provider 2
**9 ObiTalk Network
*** device configuration
Softphone apps are available for iPhone and Android and PC to make OBiTALK calls.
If you have the OBi110 and a landline or second VoIP provider you can do bridging.
Calling out on your OBi by default sends the call to SP1 (Google Voice).
You can configure your OBi device from the obihai.com web site, by dialing *** from the connected phone or browsing the device’s IP.
see my blog entry titled “Landlines. My take on POTS, VoIP and more”