Obihai working with Google Voice once again!

Obihai just sent out an email to all their users announcing that once again Google Voice is now officially supported on OBi VoIP devices.

Google had announced they were disabling XMPP support awhile back, causing Obihai and other VoIP device manufacturers who were piggybacking on Google Voice to scramble for a new free/cheap solution. XMPP access was suppose to be disabled back in May, but I don’t think Google has actually pulled the plug yet. Though that hasn’t stopped me from finding a new solution while we wait for the inevitable.

Yesterday, Google announced they’ve integrated Google Voice into Google Hangouts. Today, Obihai announces that they’re officially supporting Google Voice again. Not sure if that’s purely a coincidence or the integration has opened up some access point that Obihai can now connect to.

Setting up your Obihai device with Google Voice is simpler than before:

  1. Log into and go to your Dashboard
  2. Select your OBi device from the list
  3. Click on the new Google Voice Set-Up button above your service provider list
    Google Voice Set-Up
  4. If this is your first time setting up with new Google Voice, it should prompt you to update your firmware which should take 1-2 minutes
  5. Once the firmware update completes, enter your area code and link it up with your Google Voice account

Tada! That’s it! You’re no longer require to provide OBiTalk with your Google credentials. Instead, they’ve adopted OAuth (similar to how you can use Facebook or Twitter to log into random websites).

What to do with my OBiTalk device now that Google Voice is going away?

Chuck it in the trash. I kid. I kid.

For the past 5 years I’ve been enjoying free VoIP calling via Google Voice, starting back when they were known as GrandCentral. Back then, I was using a Linksys PAP2 instead of my current OBi110. But it looks like that party is coming to an end. Google Voice has announced they’ll be ending XMPP support on May 15th which basically prevents any of the current VoIP devices/services from using it.

That May 15th date is approaching and I’ve spent some time researching the alternatives. Since the main selling point of the OBiTalk devices was Google Voice being free, Obihai has recommended the following 2 VoIP services:

They all range from $35-40/year w/ unlimited incoming calls and ~300 minutes for outgoing calls. Not too expensive, but definitely far from free. If outgoing calls are a must, they’re worth considering.

However, I unlike (or maybe like) many others don’t care much about outgoing calls. Plus you can still use Google Voice’s web UI to make long distance calls. If you’re in this scenario, you’re in luck!

The easiest option is to forward Google Voice to your cell phone. You can either do this by installing the Google Voice app or configuring Google Voice to ring your cell phone. That way, people who currently have your Google Voice number will still be able to reach you.

However, I preferred to have Google Voice ring my home phone, so I began looking into options. Before OBiTalk, I had forwarded my GV# to IPKall. IPKall isn’t exactly a SIP provider, but they provide you with a real phone number which would forward to any SIP provider of your choice. Back then IPKall recommended FWD as the SIP provider, but it looks like they’re recommending Callcentric and CallWithUs now. After looking into them, I’ve discovered that Callcentric will provide you with a phone # for free, so you don’t even have to use IPKall.

Signing up with Callcentric was straight forward. After creating your account, they’ll send you an email to confirm your email address. What you want to do next is order a Free Phone Number on their products page. You’ll end up getting a NY phone number which you won’t be using besides telling Google Voice this is the number to forward your calls to. If you specify that you won’t be using this service inside the USA, you can avoid the E911 fee.

Next, it’s time to set up the Obihai device. Log into and select the device you want to configure. Delete your Google Voice service provider and set up a new service provider using Callcentric. You’ll have to select OBiTALK Compatible Service Providers halfway down the page.

The only 3 fields you’ll want to provide here is the area code, Callcentric Number, and Callcentric Password. The Callcentric # is different than your username. You can find your Callcentric # on the left column after logging into your account. Save and let your OBiTalk device reboot.

Next, log into Google Voice and go to Settings > Phones. Add another phone and provide it with the free phone # you just got from Callcentric. Google Voice will now ring your phone and ask you to verify the phone number. After verification, everything is set. You can now receiving incoming calls for free on your Google Voice #!

Getting Obihai OBi110 to work with Google Voice

So I had mentioned about the Obihai OBi110 in a previous blog post: Google Voice to Real Phone and Back! Now that Google is shutting down Gizmo5, it became that much more urgent for me to get this device to my parents, since they no longer have a land line and actually make and receive calls from their home phone. Apparently their alarm system also goes through the home phone line. Good to know.

Obihai OBi110

Anyway, when I last blogged about it, the item was out of stock at About 2-3 weeks ago, Amazon changed the status from out of stock to shipping in 2-4 weeks. So I went ahead and ordered one for $85. It was much higher than the previous $50 price tag when I first read about it, but I figured due to demand, limited supply, and urgency, $85 was still worth it. A couple days later, it had dropped to $70, so I canceled my original order and repurchased them at the lower price.

Anyway, it turns out that Obihai’s Amazon reseller account got stock quicker than Amazon did. It was actually cheaper too! $50 shipped (fulfilled by Amazon / limit 4) and neither CA nor WA had sales tax!

Unfortunately at the time of posting, the OBi110 is out of stock via their reseller account. It’s still available via Amazon for $85, but I found out they also have an OBi100 which may actually be enough for most people.

obi100 obi110 comparison

From the chart, it looks like the only difference is the Obi110 has an additional line port which allows you to do some neat stuff if you have an actual land line (e.g. calling from a phone outside your home and making calls through VoIP from your home internet connection). The Obi100 at the time of posting is available for $44 (after coupon / limit 4).


So now that I’ve gone over the cost and the trouble I went through to purchase it, lets talk about the device, setting it up, and the experience I’ve had so far. I had my dad disconnect everything from the Linksys PAP2 and plug it into the Obihai OBi110 and it was immediately online. My dad kept on asking me what to do with the included telephone cable and ethernet cable and it took me 5 minutes to convince him that they were not needed since I’m reusing the cables from the existing ATA device. It was nice of them to include those cables though.

Different from most network devices, you do not connect to its ip address (e.g. http://192.168.0.x), but instead you create an account at After verifying your email address, you click on Add Devices from the website and it’ll give you a sequence of #s to push on your phone that is connected to the device. Your device is now registered with your OBiTalk account. Simple enough.

After adding the device, it notified me that my firmware was out of date. To update the firmware, it was just another click from the website. I did have trouble with my initial attempt to upgrade the firmware, but when I tried to upgrade it again, it worked fine. This happened twice (once for my parents’ device and one for my own).

The device works with a series of service providers or your own custom SIP provider:

  • Broadvoice
  • Callcentric
  • Google Voice
  • InPhonex
  • Sipgate
  • Vitelity
  • VoicePulse

Each device supports 2 service providers, so technically you can have 2 Google Voice accounts ring the same phone. You can designate which account is in charge of making outgoing calls.

I was initially having problems setting up my parents’ Google Voice account. It turns out that he needed a GMail account since OBiTalk goes through Google Chat. After creating a GMail account and enabling calls to be forwarded to Google Chat, I was still having some issues. It finally got fixed after I deleted Google Chat (which was showing his old email) from his Google Voice account. After relaunching GMail, Google Chat got readded to Google Voice with his new GMail address and things started to work.

Update: Using the phone was pretty much straight forward (similar to a regular land line). You get to set up your default area code via their website, so if you enter 7 digits, it’ll assume that’s the area code you’re using. Otherwise, it’s 1-area_code-phone_number as usual. Voice quality felt a bit worse than when I was using my Linksys PAP2 in conjunction with Gizmo5, but it’s still way better than what you get with cell phones. There’s also this weird set of beeps (doo doo doo) when you initially pick up your handset to make a call, but afterwards, you get the the normal dial tone.

Another thing to note is that instead of plugging a phone into the OBi110, I have it connected to the house’s internal phone wiring, so that all the phones throughout the house can make and receive calls through the device.

As with Google Voice, all incoming calls are free and all outgoing calls to USA + Canada are free. International calls are also extremely cheap (rates).

Google Voice to Real Phone and Back!

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.

Obihai OBi - Reasons

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

Whistle – Free Phone Calls

Whistle I first read about Whistle on SlickDeals: Free Inbound/outbound Calling No Server required and what intrigued me was the fact it works with Google Voice as well as SIP capable ATA devices. There’s also the fact that it works on your iPhone and iPod Touch, but I currently own neither.

Whistle – Free Phone Calls to Anyone in the U.S.

I’ve been using Google Voice + Gizmo5 + ATA for almost a year and it’s been working great. The only downside is that outgoing calls are limited to 3 minutes. However if you initiate the outgoing call from Google Voice, it’s unlimited.

My Linksys PAP2 comes with 2 lines which means I can setup 2 separate SIP accounts, so I decided to give this a try. Creating a new account actually requires downloading their software. Installation was pretty simple, though their software was pretty much a very simple SIP client. The SD thread also links to a tutorial on how to set up your ATA: Use Whistle Phone on any SIP device – Make free VoIP calls to USA [Tutorial]

The only changes I needed to make was the following:

Outbound Proxy:
Use Outbound Proxy: yes
Use OB Proxy In Dialog: yes
Register: yes

User ID: (10 digit phone # – no dashes)
Password: (your account password)
Auth ID: (10 digit phone # – no dashes)
Use Auth ID: yes

I also learnt a bit on how to define ATA dial plans. Here’s what I ended up with:
(1[2-9]xx[2-9]xxxxxxS0 | <:1>[2-9]xx[2-9]xxxxxxS0 | <:1425>[2-9]xxxxxxS6)
Which made me realized that neither area codes nor prefixes can ever begin with 1.

Gave it a test run and found out I had to disable my STUN Server. Never quite knew what the STUN Server did, but when setting up Gizmo5, the tutorial stated I should enable it. I disabled it and my Gizmo5 account was still able to receive and make calls. With the STUN Server disabled, I was also able to make calls using my new Whistle account.

As noted on the thread and site, you’re required to listen to 15 seconds of ads before your outgoing call is made, but there’s no restriction on how long the call is as long as it’s within the U.S. They do have international plans, but I have no idea if it’s a good deal or not. I made about 5 test calls and only the 1st one required me to listen to an ad. I’m not sure if it’s because I hung up pretty much immediately after calling my cell phone. Definitely worth playing with. There’s no ad requirement for incoming calls.

If you don’t have an ATA device, you can always hook up a microphone to your computer.