For some time now, I’ve been using Google Voice as my home phone. Recently they have added the feature where you can port your existing mobile number to their service for a $20 fee (blog post). I’ve been contemplating on doing so, but ultimately decided against it because if I ever use my mobile phone to call somebody, the receiver will see a different number on their caller id. I know they now have apps that allow you to use Google Voice on your cell phone, but the features are still limited and I’m waiting to see if any mobile phone service will have some deeper integration with Google Voice so that voice mail and caller id would work correctly. Maybe Google will end up launching their own mobile network.
Currently I have Google Voice setup with Gizmo5 + Linksys PAP2 (ATA) (instructions). However Gizmo5 limits my free outgoing calls to 3 minutes, which is annoying. On the other hand, Google Voice gives me unlimited free outgoing calls in the US/Cananda, but I have to initiate the call from the Google Voice website. Doable for me, but puts a damper in things for my parents.
Awhile back, there was a tutorial on how to setup an Asterisk server which would bypass Gizmo5 and be able to make unlimited outgoing calls through Google Voice: Googlevoice + Asterisk pbx (PiAF) + Free DID from SipGate = Free incoming/outgoing USA VOIP service. The tutorial was a bit complicated and I bookmarked it as a future project to try out. Not long after that, someone posted an easier tutorial which only required a few steps: Google Voice + Asterisk = Free USA VOIP service. I bookmarked it too.
As you probably guess, I haven’t gotten around to trying this project out yet, but the good news is I can have the cake and eat it too!
Today I found out Obihai has released a device known as the OBi110 for $50 (discussion). All you need is a Google Voice account to set the device up. Then you can plug in any phone or hook it up to your entire house for unlimited free incoming/outgoing calls to US/Canada. They also have really good international rates if I recall correctly. They also let you choose any area code (most other services charge a fee for that). There will be no need to purchase a separate ATA device.
With this device and setup, it actually solves a couple issues:
- Outgoing calls just like calling from a regular phone with no time limit
- The receiver will see your Google Voice # as the caller id
- I don’t have to setup and maintain it!
All this for just $50. Unfortunately it’s currently sold out at Amazon, but I’m pretty sure it’ll be back in stock in the near feature. If you can’t wait, you can always order it from 888VoipStore for $10 more for shipping.
More details on Google Voice + OBi: Obihai Announces Support for Google Voice on OBi110