No more free phone with Google Voice and Obi…but there is a solution!

**UPDATE**

Interesting Email from Obihai:

The Google Voice Service is Still Working on My OBi! How come?
At the end of last year, Google Inc. announced that the open and documented XMPP communication protocol would be abandoned in favor of a new, proprietary way to do real-time voice, video and instant messaging communications. The time-line for the migration to this new way was not stated. At about the same time, but separately, Google stated third-party applications should stop supporting XMPP by May 15th 2014. Now that this date has passed, like you, we have observed Google services using XMPP are still connected and working, e.g. you can still place and receive calls using a Gmail account configured on your Obi device. It is important to note, this does not change the previous statements from Obihai that we no longer support direct connections to Google Voice on OBi devices. We strongly recommend all OBi owners using the Google Voice service obtain a new service to ensure continued, uninterrupted calling from the phone connected to the OBi. Fortunately, there are several OBiTALK Approved Service Provider (ASP) choices available to all OBi device owners for Internet VoIP phone services. These services are easy to sign-up for and configure automatically on an OBi device. They also come at a great price – with all fees and taxes included.

**END UPDATE**

This post will deviate from my normal VMware posts, but I think there are many that this might help.

I have been using Google Voice with my Obi 100 for about a year now.  Aside from the E911 service through Anveo.com I pay nothing for my home phone service.  The E911 only cost me something like $12 for the year.  Everything was going fine until the announcement that Google Voice would no longer work with Obi because Google was eliminating XMPP Support.  I don’t have the details of why this won’t work anymore, I just know it wont.  If you want details about XMPP, read about it here.
Obi-vs-GV-1b

The question that Obi users face is, “What do I do now?”.  The good news is that there is a pretty good list of alternative providers, but the bad news is that they are not free.  It would seem like the best time to get into a contract is right now though because many of the providers are offering cheaper plans until 5/14/2014 at which time the XMPP ends.  The plan I am going for is 2 years for $50 which gets me 500 minutes per month along with E911.  This comes to just over $2 a month for phone service!
Pricing

The provider that I decided on is called Vestalink.  I don’t want to port my number out of Google Voice, so after the nifty Vestalink video I will show you how I accomplished this.

**Please use my links for signing up for Vestalink as I can earn a referral; note that I am NOT paid or sponsored by Vestalink**  First go to here and sign up for a free 30 day or 60 minutes of talk time trial.  You don’t have much time though if you are going to get one of the deals before 5/14/2014.Click the Sign Up Free link.

SignUp

Enter the appropriate information for your internet details as well as your login details.   Click Continue.
Signup1

Enter the Zip code closest to where you would like your number.  This pulls up a list of cities nearby.  Click the one you are interested in and then click Continue.  Make sure you note your new phone number…we will need it later
Signup2

Enter your address for E911.  This is important so please make sure the information is correct.  Click Continue.
Signup3

Now to select your device.  I had the Obi, so I clicked on the “Bring your own device / Softphone / Smartphone / Tablet / OBi Adapter – Click Here” link.  To continue you then have to click on Click Here.
Signup4

The last thing to do is to verify the information is all correct.  You must check the consent box and then enter a phone number that they can verify that you really want to sign up.  The phone number cannot be a VOIP number.
Signup5 Signup6

If it didn’t take you into the Vestalink Dashboard, then go to www.vestalink.com and then click Login.  Enter your email and password and then login.
Login

We need to get Vestalink talking to your OBi device.  Click Devices and then Click Softphone/BYOD.  You need the IP address of your OBi and you can get this by following the directions here or by logging into your router and finding the IP from the DHCP list.  My guess is that if you are here setting this up, then you probably should be able to find this information.  Enter the IP address and then click Send Configuration.  You might be asked for the OBi password and which by default is admin/admin.  Your OBi device is magically configured for use with Vestalink.
OBiSetup

Time to forward my Google Voice number to my new Vestalink number.  Go to Google Voice and click the little settings gear at the top right and then click Settings.  On the Settings page under the Phones tab click the Add another phone link at the bottom of the page.  Type a new name…I used OBi and then put the Versalink phone number that your wrote down earlier…right…:)  Click Save.  Google will require that you verify the number by Google Voice calling the number and requiring that you enter a 2 digit code.  After verifying the forwarding number go back to the Vestalink Dashboard.
settinggearNewPhoneVerifyphone

We need to Spoof our Google Voice number when we call out, so instead of using the new Versalink number on the caller ID of who you are calling…it will look like your old Google Voice.  Click on Numbers and then click Spoof Caller ID.  Put your Google Voice number in the “Set to” box and then click the Verify Ownership box.  Versalink will call your Google Voice number now and ask you to enter a code.
SpoofID
VerifyOwner

That is is…when someone calls your Google Voice number it will forward it to your new Vestalink number (and now you have caller ID).  When you make a new call out it will use the new Vestalink number, however the number will be spoofed with your old Google Voice number; so it looks like you are calling with Google Voice but you are not.

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15 responses to “No more free phone with Google Voice and Obi…but there is a solution!

  1. Although I really liked Vestalink I experienced intolerable latency when using it as a forwarded number in Google Voice. And since I had no desire to port my number out of Google Voice I had to choose another VoIP provider. Have you experienced latency using Vestalink as a forwarding number in Google Voice?

  2. I am thinking about getting a GVMate and plugging it into my computer and ditching my obi. I have not been impressed by what is being offered.

  3. Alyson, The thing I don’t like about this though is that you have to have it plugged into a computer constantly; truth be told for most of us that really isn’t that big of a deal.

    For *Free* you do not have all the features though, specifically caller ID and E911. For the caller ID it looks like they require $10 to fund the lookup acount and that would of course get you 1000 lookups (Should last a while). It is $1 a month for the E911. I nearly forgot the initial $29.95 (normally $59.99) for the adapter.

    Time to total it up…29.95 + $24 (2yr E911) = $53.95. The advantage here is that there doesn’t appear to be a limit based on minutes.

    • I don’t care about the caller id stuff. The $29.95 is a one time charge. A $1/month is reasonable to have e911. Basically it’s $12/ yr for “unlimited” phone service. Still sounds better than S60/yr “unlimited” services being offered. I use to pay more $30/month to have the old land line service and that did not include long distance calls which were extra and were the majority of phone calls I was making.
      If Google and Obi become doable in the future I am ready.

      • Alyson,

        Too your point, it is funny how we all came from paying $20-30 a month for phone service and are now nitpicking for $15 a year for E911. If something does change with Google Voice and how they provide availability, you would be in a better position to make a change rather than being in a 2yr “contract”.

      • Jonsey,
        I am in no hurry to make any moves. After my battle with T-Mobile about 4-5 years ago I am strictly no contract. I actually want to see how folks are liking their GVMate on May 17. I am really disappointed at what is being offered by Obihai. I will be looking at what is really working after May 15 then start making some decisions. Currently Google Hangouts rings my computer and my tablet along with my home phone when someone is calling. I have answered both computer and tablet with out any problems.

      • I can relate. For two years I had the junk system that was Verizon home service (not FIOS). I wouldn’t wish that service on anyone. I think it all comes down to how technology works for you, and if having hangouts ring every device that you own works for you then that is great. My goal with this post was to hopefully help someone that was considering moving to Vestalink, not push them into a specific product moving forward.

        Bottom line is that I am happy to see how many options there truly are out there, especially when it was looking really bad in the beginning for companies like Vonage due to the lawsuits by the big phone companies.

  4. Have you had any trouble with the Obi100 and Vestalink dropping calls randomly? Sometimes mine drop 15 min into the call and sometimes I can talk for an hour. I am on a monthly plan while I test the service.

    • The only time mine dropped a call was when my trial ran out.

    • The only time I had a dropped call was when my mother in law was on the phone and my trial ran out….so like I said in my post, I can’t count that as a bad thing. I have had one phone call with a slight echo.

      My Coworker is signing up for Vestalink as well and when he would call someone he could hear them, but for the person that he called it was extremely choppy. Turns out the issue was his Server was running crash plan and was uploading massive amounts of data. My first suggestion for you would be to try to turn off other devices using the router and see if that clears up the problem.

      Vestalink responded to my Coworker about the choppiness issue by recommending the following: Open UDP 8891 and 5060 on your router and disable any SIP ALG settings.

      Hope this helps…

  5. I am happy about the update you have in red. A lot of other bloggers are not including that in their posts. It would be nice to see an update on the validity of Obihai’s new sales sObihai is plugging this new “official” relationship but it is based on the same validity of the Google voice may 14th shutdown that never happened. The point is, dont believe anything Google employees put on their Google+ accounts, in fact they are not suppose to in the first place. Until there is an official announcement from Google. Its best to assume Google voice is being updated to hangouts and hangounts does not support XMPP calling. VoIP is not free, skype charges for US calling and still does not make a profit, so there is no way Google will continue the free ride forever. With Google’s falling stock price and investors getting restless about their focus on frivolos enterprises such as free calling, self driving cars, and glasses they are going to need to focus on their core business model of making money though advertising. Google voice is a research and development project that is most likely going to become their new Cell phone company later this year. Check out http://www.vestalink.com

  6. Google Voice is officially supported on Obihai as of September 11, 2014. Go to http://blog.obihai.com/2014/09/google-voice-and-obihai-update.html for more information. I updated my Obihai 110 and it works on Google Voice using the new OAUTH login authentication.

  7. When I heard the new that GV was going to discontinue svc I moved it to Vestalink for close to a year, the latency issue is a big one and the call quality not anywhere near Google Voice. I ended up porting back over to GV and glad the service still works and hope it continues. When it finally goes away I will look for another alternative it just wont be Vestalink. One other thing, their tech support sucks as well!

    • I had some connection issues at first, but I think that was due to a bad wiring job (done by me) in my house. Once I made a new cable and punched it down the call quality has been fine.

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