Free Phone Calls with Google Voice
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.
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...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 9 Feb 2011
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Free Phone Calls with Google Voice (Posted: 9 Feb 2011)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved