Free Phone Calls with Google Voice

Category: Telephony

Google provides a lot of useful and free telephony services, such as Google Voice, Google Talk and Google Phone. But there are a couple of key features missing from Google's line-up of freebies. The requirement to use a PC in order to make calls is a big one -- people want to use phones to make phone calls. A new device promises to solve those problems...

Using Google Voice Without a PC

Google Voice lets you make free phone calls to any U.S. or Canadian phone, and other international calls at very low rates. Google Phone gives you a permanent phone number that can forward voicemails and lets you send or receive text messages. But there are limitations to these computer-based telephony applications.

Having to use a PC is one shortcoming; people want to use phones. Solutions to these needs have been available since 2009, but most have been rather geeky: complicated to implement and prone to unexplained breakdowns. Some require a dedicated PC, and some charge a modest but recurring annual fee. But there hasn't been a simple plug-and-play solution for the non-technical consumer until quite recently.

Free Calls with Google Voice + OBI110

In January, 2011, Obihai Technology introduced the OBI110 Voice Service Bridge and Terminal Adapter, the first such device (generically known as an Analog Telephony Adapter or ATA) with built-in support for Google Voice. Its list price is $49.99 and it's available at Amazon.com and other online retailers. Prices may fluctuate, so check the Google Shopping page for the latest vendors and pricing.

Unlike Vonage and other VoIP service providers, there are no additional fees to use The OBI110 with Google Voice, just the one-time hardware cost and your regular broadband Internet service.

Installing and Testing the OBI110

Installing the OBI100 is easy. Just plug the appropriate cables into ports on the device labeled, "Phone," "Internet," "Power," and optionally "Line." The last is for a plain old telephone service (POTS) phone line, if you plan to keep paying your telephone company for one. You may want to do so because Google Voice does not provide 911 emergency location service. With the landline plugged in, 911 will work with the OBI110 just fine.

The next step is to test the setup. Pick up the phone and you should get a dialtone. Dial "**9 333 333 333" and you'll be connected to another OBI100 maintained by Obihai for testing. Press 2 at the voice prompt, then dial 1+ any U.S. or Canadian phone number and hit the # key. If all is well you will be connected to that number.

Now you need a Google Voice phone number. If you don't have one, get it from Google Voice. If you already have a Google Voice number you can use it with the OBI110. Run the setup wizard that comes with the OBI110 to configure your Google Voice account to work with the OBI110.

You can also port your current non-Google phone number over to Google Voice. But the road to keeping your cherished phone number is not smooth. Google will charge $20 for number porting, and you current carrier contract will be terminated; that may entail early termination penalties. There will be a gap of a few days between terminating your current phone service and activating your old number on Google Voice.

Then start making calls from the phone connected to the OBI110. That phone will ring when someone calls your Google Voice number. Google's voicemail will work as usual. You can still send and receive text messages via your PC. Obihai also has downloadable apps that enable Google Voice features on the iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, and Android smartphones.

Are you a Google Voice user? Tell me what you think about the OBI110. Post your comment or question below...

 
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Most recent comments on "Free Phone Calls with Google Voice"

Posted by:

Pat
09 Feb 2011

I always find your artcles interesting Bob but some of them apply to the US only such as this Google Applicatin..we get left out in the cold.

I have a MagicJack and it works fine phoning home from abroad, except they only had US numbers so a call in Canada is 'free' for me but long distance for those who call me locally..


Posted by:

Mike
10 Feb 2011

Interesting idea, but you are incorrect in stating that you cannot answer incoming calls coming thru your Google number. That is the number one feature of a Google phone number. Calls made to your Google number are forwarded to your phone or to multiple phones you use such as home phone, cell phone and work phone so that you are able to receive calls no matter where you may be.

As noted in your article, the drawback to a Google number is that you must place phone calls thru a computer. Apparently, this device solves that problem by allowing you to place calls from your home phone using your Google number.


Posted by:

Mo
10 Feb 2011

Checked Amazon today for this product. Price was listed at $89.00 not $49.99 as listed in the article.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Ouch... I'm certain I saw it for $49.99 recently. Check this page for updates on resellers and pricing: http://www.obihai.com/how-to-get.html


Posted by:

sherry schaffer
14 Feb 2011

little old lady here to tell you I make free google calls by calling my google phone # from my landline and following instructions-no computer at all.You can set up a pin# to use when prompted.Can't believe you geeks haven't figured this out yet.Sometimes you get to the voicemail to give yourself a message but I keep calling the # til it gets to the voicemail inbox and later pressing #2 for making a call.My sis calls me using google voice on her landline.


Posted by:

Annabelle
15 Feb 2011

Sherry, you're forgetting something... You have to pay the phone company for that landline every month! The OBI gadget would allow you to drop your landline service.


Posted by:

Lane Lester
16 Feb 2011

A search for the device at Amazon turns up only the Cisco SPA3102 Voice Gateway with Router for $64.49. Down on the page is a link to the OBi110, but its page now shows the item unavailable: "We don't know when or if this item will be back in stock."

I've never used Zoolert, but here's the link to be notified when the item is back in stock: http://goo.gl/FQ3xO

But there are 11 five-star reviews and only one one-star from a guy who got a broken one.

So it looks like we have a great concept, but some dust needs to settle before it's time to take the plunge (are those mixed metaphors?).


Posted by:

njoy
20 Mar 2011

Okay, here's what I want (little old lady alert so take it easy on me): I want an ereader; I want a basic mobile web browser; I want to be able to make phone calls (receiving them doesn't matter).

I am thinking of buying an iPod Touch but it doesn't have a functioning microphone. Here's the question: can I use headphones with a microphone, then use Google Call Phone? Or VOIP? I love my Magic Jack but don't want to haul around a laptop. Maybe a notebook?

EDITOR'S NOTE: See http://askbobrankin.com/free_phone_calls_with_ipod_touch.html


Posted by:

Alce Mesidor
25 Jul 2011

i want to call USA and Canada


Posted by:

Spats
10 Jan 2012

Been using the OBI110 and Google voice for about 6 weeks and have had no problems. I like that you can fax using the OBI110, can't tell the difference between this and POTS. And Amazon was selling it for $35 and free shipping! I give it a "thumbs up".


Posted by:

BobG-OKCa
11 Jan 2012

With either the OBI110 or Ooma unit (not mentioned here), can I set it up at my home in Oklahoma City for use when I'm there, then take it to Colorado, plug it into the internet and have it receive calls from my friends in Oklahoma City while I'm in Colorado without any reconfiguration? And if so, I assume I could then phone out from either place so long as my phone is hooked into the unit, which is then hooked into the local internet connection.

Will either one work fine for outgoing faxes as well?

Thanks


Posted by:

Gloria Huffman
16 Feb 2013

2/16/13 6:15a EDT: Bad link for Google Voice, should go to google.com/voice, not google.com/googlevoice (4th para. from end)


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