How to use the Obihai OBi100 or OBi110 VoIP device as a gateway between Asterisk/FreePBX and Google Voice and/or the OBiTALK network

This article has been moved. Please click here to read it.

34 Comments

  1. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by MichiganTelephone, MichiganTelephone. MichiganTelephone said: How to use the Obihai OBi100 or OBi110 VoIP device as a gateway between Asterisk/FreePBX and Google Voice and/or… http://ff.im/-xt1Qt [...]

  2. MJ said

    Thanks for the awesome article. But, I’m quite confused as to why would one need to use it as a gateway between Asterisk and GV. I don’t quite understand what “problem” we are solving here :)

  3. MJ, you’re not solving any problem if you are running Asterisk 1.8 and are using the new Google Voice support in that version. But it seems there are folks running older systems (Asterisk 1.4 or 1.6, for example) that either have trouble implementing the older callback method, or just don’t like it, and might prefer to use a separate hardware device as a gateway to Google Voice. That might particularly be the case if they need a VoIP device to plug a standard phone into anyway (so they can use it as an extension off their Asterisk server, perhaps). It’s one of those cases where the right path for one person might not be the right way to go for someone else. But I would be with you in thinking that anyone running Asterisk 1.8 (or later) would probably be better off using that version’s built Google Voice support.

    Of course there’s one other wrinkle to that — let’s say your Asterisk server is in London or Sydney or Calcutta, but you still want full access to Google Voice. If you had one of these devices at one of your locations inside the U.S. (friend or relative’s home, branch office of your company, etc.) then it could access Google Voice on SP1 and your Asterisk server on SP2 and act as a bridge between the two (or calls could be bridged to another OBi device using the OBiTALK network, although that’s not explicitly covered in these articles). That’s not a use I had in mind when I wrote these articles, but in thinking about your question, that was another potential use that came to mind.

  4. Note to anyone having issues getting outbound calls to work: Check your SP2 X_InboundCallRoute string against the string in the graphic in the article (remember you can click on it to get an enlarged version). For some reason WordPress wants to “eat” parts of that string in the text, particularly the angle brackets and the “ob” enclosed within the angle brackets, if I’m not very careful during edits. Also make sure you haven’t inadvertently copied over any line feeds or other extraneous characters. I’ve added some text to the original article to try and help readers with this.

  5. Erick said

    Great work!!!
    I followed your steps, not to use Googlevoice but to use my VOIP service provider that I got working on my Obi110, but I want to use it trough asterisk keeping my Obi at home. I got it to register with my asterisk wich is awesome, but I’m not able to make my outgoing call to go to SP1, I’m not really sure what I’m sending from my server as I’m not able to see any logs from the OBi110. I have double check the string for the X_InboundCallRoute, and I see no problem, do you have a idea what else could be???

    Thanks,

    Erick

  6. Erick, assuming you have your VoIP service provider on SP1, then you need to make sure they will accept 11 digit calls, and you need to make sure that Asterisk is sending the calls to the OBi110 using a full 11 digits. One test you can try is, from a phone connected to the phone port, dial a call using **1 then 1+area code+number and see if it goes out. If it doesn’t, then the service provider doesn’t like what you are sending it for some reason — listen to any response you may receive, it may give you a clue as to what’s wrong. If it does accept it and puts the call through, then either calls are not making it from Asterisk to the device, or you’re sending the number in the wrong format.

    Why can’t you see any logs from the OBi110? What happens if you log into the device and then go to Status | Call History?

  7. GizmoChicken said

    @MJ

    I bought an OBi100 specifically to accept incoming GV calls because Asterisk 1.8 doesn’t reliably accept incoming GV calls, at least it didn’t the last time that I tried.

    See http://michigantelephone.wordpress.com/2011/03/22/google-voice-incoming-calls-broken-with-asterisk-1-8/#comment-3457.

    So for me, this looks like a perfect solution for those who are having trouble getting GV calls into Asterisk or the like.

    @ MichiganTelephone

    I haven’t tried answering GV calls directly with Asterisk 1.8 for a week or so. And in fact, I took down Asterisk after getting the OBi. (I’m currently experimenting with FreeSwitch via Blue.Box, but haven’t made much progress yet.)

    Is Asterisk working better with incoming GV calls for you now? Or is this your workaround? (Looks like a great workaround, by the way.)

  8. GizmoChicken, good luck with Blue.Box — I looked at it about four months ago and I just have to say that (in my opinion) it wasn’t ready for prime time yet. You might also want to look at FusionPBX, which is a different GUI for FreeSWITCH. I’d be interested to know if you wind up settling on either, since I am so disgusted with FreePBX and the direction they are taking that if any of these other projects ever become truly usable I’d like to try one of them (that’s a good project for the cold winter months, though).

    I have one Google Voice account that comes in through an OBi device and it works great. I have other accounts coming in for which I’m now using Michigan DID’s that I obtained from a friend. I actually prefer the way it works coming through the OBi (simply because it doesn’t have to pass through the PSTN and just works as it should) but I find that the DID’s work well too, plus it gives me an alternate number for when Google Voice is down (or if they ever start charging for calls). And as many Google Voice accounts as I have going though one system (for family members and friends) it would be impractical and a bit expensive to buy an OBi for each Google Voice account. But if you only have one or two Google Voice accounts, I would say that OBi’s are a great alternative to the partially-broken channel drivers in Asterisk 1.8.

  9. Jay C said

    Excellent work

  10. me said

    now all we need is a way to link an obi110 to an obitalk account *without* connecting a device to the phone port

  11. me said

    I am actively disinterested in GV.. I am hoping the android application will allow funky tunnelling to obitalk to circumvent the nat evil of verizon wireless.

    I bought the obi110 solely for android dialing with ITSP and sipsorcery tinkering

  12. [...] there are plenty of detailed instructions how to connect the obi110 to privacy raping googlevoice [...]

  13. If you happened to follow the above trackback (and if you haven’t, don’t waste your time), this has to be one of the most idiotic blog posts I have read in a long time. The guy is ranting and raving and name-calling over the fact that in order to link an Obihai device with an account on the web OBiTALK portal, you actually have to connect a phone to the device.

    This is one of the most ridiculous rants I have ever read. Why would you even buy an Obihai adapter if you don’t intend to hook a phone to it? Is it really such an imposition (or “vexatious step”, as he puts it) to plug in a phone to activate a phone device? It would have taken him a lot less time to do that that to write that silly blog post.

    The reason for dialing the code is to match an Obihai adapter to a particular user account. For most people, dialing three or four digits is a LOT easier than navigating a web portal on on the device, which is something they would possibly never have to do once the device is registered, since they can use the OBiTALK portal to do all the setup. And of course, Mr. Obnoxious could skip the OBiTALK portal altogether, and just configure his Obihai device manually, since he’s so enamored with the idea of using the device’s web portal.

    I don’t know who peed in his Cheerios (and if no one did, maybe someone ought to) but this definitely qualifies as the most ridiculous blog post I have read this year. Instead of calling his blog “Sagacious Himself”, he ought to call it “Full Of Himself”, for he surely is. If you’re going to rant about something requiring effort, at least make it about something where the effort required takes longer than writing the blog post complaining about it (something like entering several hundred Outbound Route Dial Patterns in FreePBX 2.8, for example). Otherwise, you just come off looking like you’re trying for the asshole blogger of the year award.

  14. MT said

    Dear michigantelephone,
    I am baffled on how much time you put in these fantastic articles that you write and the time you take to respond to each person. I raise my hat to you sir!

    Here is my problem ( and I do not mind if I have to pay you to help me!):
    I am trying to help a colleague to set up a small business which
    would have about 20 employees. He needs to have each employee
    either a phone or a phone extension. I am not much familiar with
    what is needed to help him in that regards, but when I read your
    articles on OBI110, Google Voice, Astrix and FreePBX, I thought that maybe your suggestions could be used in this regards.

    I am a bit familiar with linux, but I am not a guru like you in using
    Astrix, FreePBX etc. So how do I set him up? Please assume I am a total novice but I would like to assist my friend to have a reliable, least expensive and professional PBX! ( I know the requirements are contradictory!). Furthermore, he does not like his employees to have random 10 digit Google numbers but instead they should have extensions.
    Do I need a server? If so how do I set it up and where do I get the needed software? In addition please note that I was thinking to use either of the two Comcast cable plan for both internet and the telephone lines (VoIP). They have two plans with the following download speeds:
    Starter: 2Mbps to 12Mbps; OR
    Premium: 5Mbps to 22Mbps
    Whichever of the above 2 plans I use, it needs to support
    both the internet connection as well as the phone system
    requirement to support 20 employees. Is that doable?
    (please if possible contact me via email so I may ask for your assistance directly).

    Thanks a million.
    MT

  15. MT: Please… I’m NOT a “guru”. I struggle with this stuff. And I have never in my life set up a PBX for a business (and don’t plan to start now). Business systems require a degree of reliability and support that I can’t provide, plus you need to be knowledgeable about the various types of sip-based endpoints, and the only ones I know about are the ones you plug a regular telephone into, such as the Obihai devices. Oh, and it’s “Asterisk”, not “Astrix.”

    Let me just say this. If you will willing to invest some time in learning this stuff, what you want to do is not that difficult. As a total novice, I would say that you should probably look at PBX in a Flash. You download an ISO, burn it to a CD, pop it in your intended server computer (note it completely re-formats any connected hard drives, so get anything off of them you want to keep BEFORE doing the install) and several minutes later you have a working computer system. And PBX in a Flash has a thriving online community that can help you with some degree of support (also, they generally tend to keep the real a–holes out, which is more than I can say for certain other forums).

    BUT, it sounds to me like you just want to pay someone to do this and be done with it. Well, there are plenty of people who will take your money and set you up, but you will get a system designed their way, according to their ides of how a system ought to be set up. Some people will try to listen to a customer and give him what he wants (within reason), others will basically say “you get it my way or you don’t get the damn thing, and either way you are going to pay through the nose.”

    Unfortunately, I don’t know where you are (it’s a BIT easier to support someone that’s nearby, particularly if they can’t handle the “burn the ISO to a CD and pop it into your intended server computer” part) and I really don’t know anyone in the business of setting up systems, so I can’t give you any specific recommendations. I will, however, say that you’re thinking about it all wrong if you’re thinking about using Comcast telephone service with your system. You do want their broadband (probably the premium plan unless you have fairly light usage, which is to say, there’s usually never any more than a few ACTIVE calls at any given time) but you want to get your connection to the PSTN through a provider that offers a SIP-based service (or IAX2-based), and Comcast doesn’t do that.

    I just don’t know what more to tell you, but I’m seriously not interested in doing a commercial system of any kind. I’m basically the kind of guy who figures out how to do things (often the hard way), then posts it in my blog, and then the guys who do commercial system read my stuff, and that of others who have freely posted online, and then charge you to implement it. :) But they also do a lot of things I wouldn’t want any part of.

  16. MT said

    michigantelephone: I cannot accept your humbleness (just look at the praises that you get from your weblog users comments). In regards to me, you may consider me as a total novice (“Astrix” instead of “Asterisk” should have given you a clue!).

    I am willing to learn, but I am unfortunately pressed for time. Yes as you mentioned, I am not going throw money to someone just because I want it to be done with it and do not care for quality and specifications that I mentioned (by the way I reside in Santa Clara, California)

    Part of the problem is that I still do not have a clear “PICTORIAL” view of elements that are needed and the way that they are connected to implement a small office phone system. I really don’t! Also most of the terminologies is rather foreign to me as the subject (which is now rather easy for you) is quite new to me, but I have not given up yet!

    Let me first quote you the customer service response of Obihai when I brought up my requirements after reading your article:

    “If you want to use the OBi devices for the employees desktops, we suggest that each employee has their own OBi device (OBi100 or OBi110) and their own Google Voice or SIP (e.g. http://www.callcentric.com ) account. In essence, you are treating each employee like they are a single subscriber. Each employee will have the ability to place and receive calls to/from their own unique telephone number as well as receive messages on their own voicemail (and be alerted of the same).”

    You also mentioned that I need an SIP provider. The list that seems to be supported by OBI110 are: Broadvoice; Callcentric; Engin; Future Nine; Google Voice (I wonder why you do not consider Google as a SIP provider); InPhonex; Sipgate; Vitelity; VoicePulse; and VoIP.ms ( I am also curious on why Vonage was missing from the list).

    So I am still in the dark as far as how these OBI110 are connected; what hardware and software system I would need, why CentOS is good but redhat linux is not; why I cannot download latest Asterisk and FreePBX on any linux machine and then follow your instructions; etc. (that is why I felt sending you a computer and ask for your help to configure it for me!!)

    Thanks anyway for your response. As I said, I just cannot figure out how much energy you have to put up with novices like me. But I am gland that the world still has individuals who humbly share their knowledge and experience with the rest of the world without any expectations. Thanks. MT.

  17. MT, just a few comments:

    What Obihai was telling you would have let you set up a system WITHOUT a computer. You would not need to run Asterisk, FreePBX, etc. You would just use an Obihai device at each user location. Each user would have their own Google Voice (or other, more on that in a moment) number, and also each would have their own OBiTalk number, so you could place “internal” calls by dialing the 9-digit OBiTalk number rather than the “external” number, and if that’s too many digits you could shorten it to a couple digits by assigning each user a speed dial number. If you don’t really need a PBX, that could actually be a pretty workable small office system, with the caveat that you’d probably want to get service for at least your “main” extensions (the ones that receive calls from the public) from a reputable service provider rather than Google Voice (since nobody knows for sure yet what Google Voice will do after 2011). If you want to be listed in the local telephone directory as a business, then you need to use a service provider that can get you listed (not all can).

    Google Voice technically does not use SIP but for Obihai users that really doesn’t matter much. Google Voice does not pass Caller ID name data so that’s a pretty big minus in a commercial setting. The OBi100 or OBi110 will support other SIP providers besides the ones on that list, but those are the ones they more or less guarantee will work. You can use some others by entering them as a “Generic SIP provider” in the configuration. However, Vonage is not on the list because they do not offer a service that allows you to “bring your own device” — they require that you use their device. While you can use Vonage with an OBi110, you’d have to bring them in on the LINE port, just as if they were a regular telephone company, and that kind of defeats the purpose.

    As far as hardware, I’m rather impressed with the Acer Aspire Revo computers for a small, low-power system (when I say “low power” I’m talking electricity usage, not CPU power). They are big enough to be a “real” computer and will run any of the FreePBX-based packages, and they are certainly fast enough to handle Asterisk and FreePBX (at least in your situation), but they are much smaller and lighter than most computers. But then, that’s me thinking as a home user. A business system designer would say no, you want a tower computer with paired hard drives in a RAID setup (all I can say about those is I’ve HEARD of them) so that if one goes bad the system keeps on chugging. As a home user, you don’t panic if the system goes down for a few days, you just use your cell phone instead. But if it’s costing you money every second your phone system is down, then you do things quite differently.

    If you are setting up your own system I still would recommend PBX in a Flash for you, simply because of the level of community support available. In your case that’s going to be even more important than the actual software, and the relative absence of know-it-alls and “bullies” in their forums make them a better place for newbies to learn (they actually kicked out one guy, who in my opinion should have been kicked out of a couple other forums years ago because he is such a know-it-all and gives such questionable advice at times).

    PBX in a Flash installs the CentOS operating system, the Asterisk PBX, and FreePBX which (in simple terms) is a GUI and configuration file writer for Asterisk (you use it so you don’t need to write your own dial plans and configuration files). It also has several other “extras”, some of which are useful and some of which are pretty frivolous. But the point is, when you install it you get everything you need to have a working PBX, all in one package. You CAN install Asterisk and FreePBX under other Linux-based operating systems (some folks are running it under Ubuntu) if you are proficient in doing that sort of thing, but that involves a level of Linux expertise that I sure don’t have. I MUCH prefer the “stick in a CD and an hour later have a working PBX” method, and it doesn’t matter to me which Linux distribution they choose to use (although I’ve heard there are good reasons for picking CentOS, and I have to agree it’s pretty reliable).

    Once you’ve set up PBX in a Flash or a similar distribution, then you can use your Obihai devices and regular phones as endpoints, or you can use any of a number of other endpoints, including SIP-based phones that plug directly into your local computer network (and do NOT connect to regular phone service). Such phone typically cost a lot more than an Obihai device but they also tend to offer features that many business users have come to expect.

    If you want to get up to speed on this subject, there is a free E-Book you can download called “PBX in a Flash Without Tears”. Google that title, download it and read it if you want to educate yourself about this stuff. Packt Publishing also put out a book on FreePBX 2.5 (the current version is 2.9) that’s pretty good (you can read my review here – Disclosure: I got a free book!) but it will cost you a little money, probably quite justifiable as a business expense though.

    As for the idea of sending someone a computer and asking them to configure it, I might consider something like that if it was another home user like myself (probably only if I knew them personally, though). But once you get into “business” systems, then there’s the matter of liability. If I designed a system for you and it failed at the wrong time because of something I inadvertently misconfigured, and you lost business or missed a critical call, you could sue me, and I’m not insured for that!! Living in the good old U.S.A., you always have to think about whether you could be held financially liable if you make an honest mistake, and in the case of setting up a business phone system the answer is yes, so that’s why I don’t touch them. Well, that and the fact that at my age I do things at my own speed, which is probably a lot more slowly than many folks would like!

  18. MT said

    Dear Michigantelephone, couple of comments and questions:

    Q1- All office employees need to make outside calls and receive calls. You commented that “you’d probably want to get service for at least your “main” extensions (the ones that receive calls from the public) from a reputable service provider rather than Google Voice”. Isn’t Google considered to be a reputable provider? At the end of 2011, even if Google starts to charge people, it cannot be more expensive than similar providers. So do you see a technical issue if I go with this plan using Google? What are your concerns?

    Q2– You mentioned that “Google Voice does not pass Caller ID name data so that’s a pretty big minus in a commercial setting.”
    But according to Google, it seems that there is no issue. Am I missing something here? See:
    http://www.google.com/support/voice/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=117329

    Q3- I am beginning to feel that maybe we should start with what Obihai has recommended (using twenty or so OBI110 systems and Google Voice without using Asterisk). After I educate myself enough in the future to go your expert way of using Asterisk and FreePBX, then we migrate to that ( I think we still would have to use the OBI110 in this more advanced plan). So do see any pitfalls with this plan? Any recommendation before I go ahead and place order for 20 OBI110 systems?!

    Regards
    MT

  19. MT:
    A1: “Isn’t Google considered to be a reputable provider?” I suppose that depends on who you ask. SO FAR, most people that have used Google Voice with Obihai devices have not had issues. But just keep in mind, if you ever do have an issue, there is NO “customer service” department you can call. If your incoming numbers go down, you’re at Google’s mercy, and there is NO ONE you can call about it. And you can’t even port those numbers to another provider, because Google “owns” them. You wouldn’t be the first person to do business using Google Voice numbers, but I think anyone who does is taking some risk simply because IF things stop working there’s no one you can call about it and there’s no “customer service” department for Google Voice.

    A2. Read carefully, I said “name”, that page is talking about the Caller ID NUMBER. You do get the number, you do NOT get the name. If that’s not important to you, then no problem.

    A3. Only thing I would point out is that the ONLY functional difference between an OBi110 and an OBi100 is that the OBi110 has a LINE port and the OBi100 does not. If you’re not connecting anything to the LINE port and don’t think you ever will, then there’s no advantage to paying the extra few bucks for the OBi110 (but see my comments below about 911). On the other hand, the price difference is so slight that you may decide to go with the OBi110 anyway, just in case you ever find you have a use for the LINE port. It’s entirely up to you, but don’t make the mistake of thinking that you can use the LINE port as a second PHONE port, because you can’t – it just doesn’t work that way.

    Another thing I would say is you’ll probably want to add all of your Obihai devices to the same OBiTalk account, so that you can set up a common speed dial pattern that will apply to all (so you can call extension to extension using a couple of digits rather than nine). Use the OBiTalk portal for configuration and don’t let anyone convince you to configure each device manually (there is one know-it-all in the ObiTalk forums that’s just full of bad advice, and one of the things he does in try to get people not to use the ObiTalk portal for configuration. In your situation you WANT to use the portal, both so that you can fix configuration issues from wherever you may happen to be when they arise, and also because of the ease of keeping a common speed dial list synchronized between all the devices).

    Please note I am offering NO opinion on whether your plan will work out for you. I don’t know anything about your business so I am not in any position to give you specific recommendations. Everything I have told you in this and previous posts is strictly my opinion, and I do NOT hold myself out as any kind of expert on this stuff, particularly when it comes to business systems. If you take my advice and it totally screws up your business, don’t say I didn’t warn you that might happen, because I have NO experience with business systems and I am at best an “experienced amateur” with this stuff. I’m not charging you anything for my advice, and it just might be worth every penny you’re (not) paying for it. You are not my client (and I don’t take “clients”), and I don’t guarantee that even one word of what I’ve said is accurate or reliable with regard to your specific situation. Caveat Emptor, and all that! :)

    Having said that, and prefacing this next comment by saying that I am not a lawyer, I will point out that there may be state or federal regulations that require you to give employees the ability to dial 911 from any telephone on the premises. Google Voice does NOT offer 911 service. There are private companies that offer 911 service, that could possibly be used as Service Provider 2 on the Obihai device, but I do not really know anything about them (if you need recommendations, I suggest you ask in either or both of the OBiTalk forum and/or the DSLreports.com VoIP forum). I’m just pointing out that this might be an issue (you asked if I saw any pitfalls in your plan, and this might be one). Of course, some might hold the opinion that Google Voice may itself be in violation of the law by failing to complete 911 calls, but I wouldn’t touch that can of worms with a ten mile pole. I’m not a lawyer and I’m not qualified to comment on this, just saying that it might be a potential pitfall. One way that MIGHT work to get around this (and I do NOT know if this would meet the requirements of the law) would be to get all OBi110′s (because they have the LINE port) and then get ONE line from a local phone company (or even Comcast) and run it to ALL the LINE ports on all of the devices. Then if anyone picked up a phone and dialed 911, it would go to that one “real” phone line. Please note that I simply do not know what the law is on this, so again, I have no idea if that “workaround” would actually meet the requirements of the law. The VoIP forum on DSLreports.com might be a better place to ask questions about that, if you can avoid running into their resident know-it-all/jerk.

  20. MT said

    michigantelephone: This is just amazing! I mean I have never seen someone so dedicated to his weblog and care so much about his user community to take so much time to respond to novice questions. I wish I could really thank you in person! Let me be clear on one thing: You by all means, form, or shape have no legal responsibility towards me. I hereby declare that I will not and cannot sue you for any of the advices that you are giving me ( I wish there was a written form that I could sign and send it to you!). How could I in all humanity? I am using your experience and knowledge and then be so ungrateful to take legal action against you?! What a jerk I would be!

    Now back to your comments:
    Q1) Can I really use OBitalk portal to configure ALL OBI110 systems to ONE account? Is that doable and the portal would not complain? (PS: using this method is manual anyway — right?)

    Q2) I have either a cable or a DSL connection coming to the office. What and how do you think would be the best way to connect these 20 OBI110 to the Internet (what system do you recommend to do so?)

    Q3) Finally, I just talked to AT&T and they declared that they can give me 18 Mbps DSL for $85/month before taxes, and one phone line which has 3 extensions for an additional $40/month (unlimited calls to US) . So for 20 employees, I will need 7 phones for a total of 85 + 7 * 40 = $365 per month. The SIP providers that I have seen charge around $24 per each account. For example Callcentric charges $20 per account. That means for my situation $85 (DSL cost) + 20 * 20 = $485 per month!
    So any recommendation for cheap, reliable SIP provider?

    Thanks again,
    MT

  21. MT:

    Unfortunately I have run into one too many jerks in my life to just assume that someone I don’t know isn’t one. I’d love to give everyone the benefit of the doubt, but this is lawsuit-happy America we live in. Still, I appreciate your assurances!

    Regarding your questions:

    A1: I don’t, unfortunately, mean to imply that you can do one configuration and have it apply to all devices – that wouldn’t be possible because you will be associating each device with a different account. But once you’ve done a couple of them, I think you’ll find that you’ll be able to do the configuration rather quickly. But the one thing that you CAN configure in common for all devices on an account is the Speed Dial list. That is configured on an account-wide basis, probably under the theory that you don’t want to have to remember a different set of speed dials for each device you own. So let’s say your first extension has an OBiTalk number of 123 456 789 (just making one up there), you could associate speed dial 20 with **9 123 456 789 and then any time someone picks up a phone connected to any of your devices and dials 20 (or 20# to speed things up a bit) they will use the OBiTalk network to connect to OBi number 123 456 789. Entering this ONCE on the speed dial list in the OBiTalk portal will push it to all your devices, PROVIDING you don’t turn off auto-provisioning (as the resident “know-it-all” in the OBiTalk forum would have you do).

    A2. With the caveat that I’ve never done anything approaching high volume, I’ve always found cable to be far more reliable and less problematic. Of course, whether that is true or not in any particular locality depends a lot on who the cable and phone providers are, what technologies they use, etc. But for the most part, phone companies try to make their aging copper pairs carry data, while the cable companies will use fiber for most of the distance to your location. Fiber just works better, unless the cable company flat out doesn’t know what they’re doing.

    A3. You’re talking to a lifelong AT&T hater here (I’ll never forgive them for how they used to gouge people on things like extension phones, and even long cords and phones in a color other than black, when they were the monopoly telephone company). So this is not exactly an unbiased comment, but what do they mean by “one phone line which has 3 extensions???” You should be able to connect as many extensions as you want to a phone line (there is a limitation on the number of ringers a phone line will support, which is typically 5 REN, but you can get things like a Ring Voltage Booster II™ from Mike Sandman Enterprises) to get around that type of limitation — but then again, my bet would be that Obihai devices don’t draw anything even close to a full REN on a phone line). I don’t know exactly why you think you’d need seven phones from them — that makes no sense at all, taken against the context of what you have previously discussed. You are probably making some guesses here because you lack the experience to understand when they are feeding you B.S. (or you are misinterpreting what they are telling you), but please disabuse yourself of the notion that you should be paying AT&T $365 per month — again, at least in my opinion, that simply makes no sense at all in the context of what you are trying to do.

    Your immediate issue is you need broadband connectivity, NOT traditional phone service unless you are wanting to use it for 911. If it were me, I’d try to find out if it were legal to get just one PSTN line and use it for all 911 calls from your office. If all your employees are going to be in one small office where you can all see each other and/or shout at each other, then that’s probably really all you need (but, again, I am neither a lawyer nor a Californian, so don’t take my word on that). If you buy OBi110′s you could take that ONE phone line and just split it out to run to all 20 Obi devices (think of it as 20 extensions on the same phone line, except that as I say, OBi devices probably don’t draw anything near 1 REN during ringing, since basically all they have to do is measure voltage and frequency to detect ringing – it’s not like they have a big old mechanical ringer with one or two copper wire coils). If you find out that the line won’t support all 20 devices when a call comes in on that line, then use two or three of the Ring Voltage Boosters and divide up the load between them. Keep in mind that you could even have a hundred phones with no ringers on the same phone line, and any one of them would work just fine for placing calls — it’s only the drain on ringing current that causes there to be a limitation in the number of phones/devices you can connect to a phone line. Also, don’t forget that you could get broadband from your cable company plus one line of their phone service – the line you use for 911 doesn’t have to be from a traditional phone company; one from the cable company would work just as well. But you don’t need seven phone lines. You either need ONE (which can probably double as a FAX line if you only send or receive a FAX once in a blue moon) or (if the law is a lot more strict than I suspect it is) you may need 20, a separate one for each extension.

    OR you can use a SIP provider for 911 (however, some VoIP “experts” would tell you this is less reliable than 911 provided over a regular phone line). I’ve sort of been assuming that if you read my entire OBi110 review series, you came across the article Review of the Obihai OBi110 VoIP device, Part 3: 911 on the cheap?. If you happened to follow the link in there to the article on the Voxilla site, How To: Use Google Voice and OBi for all your calls (free), you may have seen in that article (in item #9) an explanation of a way to get 911 service from a particular SIP provider. I know that there is more than one company that offers the service (which is why I kept suggesting you ask on the DSLreports.com VoIP forum in my last reply — I’m pretty sure that’s where I saw the information). I don’t know if you’d need a separate account for each extension, or just one account (I’m sure there’s also a way to set up 911 service on just ONE of your Obihai devices, and then forward 911 calls from other devices over to that one, but telling you how to configure that would be an article in itself, and anyway that’s a bit like putting all your eggs in one basket – if that single device is the first one damaged by fire, for example, none of your other devices would be able to call 911. But if it’s a small office, you should already be out of the building by that point!). If I’m reading the Voxilla post correctly, the cost for the service they recommend is $1.50/month (assuming you don’t make any other calls via the account), which is $18/year! Even if they wouldn’t give you a multi-account discount, $360/year (assuming a separate account on each extension) is a lot better than $485/month!

    Try a search on DSLreports.com and read some of the threads there – might prove informative!

  22. MT, I made one mistake in the previous post, which I have since corrected: The code for OBiTalk network calls (which you could use in a speed dial) is **9, not **8. **8 is the code for the LINE port (OBi110 units only).

  23. MT said

    michigantelephone, I received my test case OBI110 system today. Setting it up to work with Google was a breeze. In fact most of your worries about the system and its interface to Google did not apply (like having to dial 1 for accepting a call, or setting it up for Google voice). I am not sure why, but maybe the latest firmware took care of things automatically!! At any rates, I tried to follow your directions step by step.

    I checked the system at home: It received and could place a call from/to either landline or cell phones. Very nice. Has not yet figured out how to make Google Voicemail to kick in. However a question for you (and please try to give me as wild of ideas as you could knowing my office situation): The system comes with a “line” port. What is the best way that I could use that if at all? In what configuration or shape? (Maybe you have already pointed out to it, but the volume of articles in front of me and emails are so tremendous that I cannot find specifically where to look for it). Thanks MT (By the way, I wanted to thank you once again for all valuable help and hints here. You are a great guy!).

  24. MT, as I said previously, Google Voice does not provide 911 service, and if you plan to use these devices in an office setting (with employees) you MAY be legally required to provide access to 911 (I am not a lawyer and I’m not entirely sure of the specifics of the laws on this). So my thought is that you could get ONE phone line from your broadband provider (phone company or cable company, depending on who you get your broadband from, they may even offer a package deal) and break it out to ALL of the line ports on all the OBi110′s you have (or, alternately, if you decide to get OBi100′s from here on out, you could just bring it into that one OBi110 and then with some dial plan manipulation on the other devices, possibly route all 911 calls to that “primary” device and then out the line port. I say “possibly” because I think it can be done, but offhand I don’t know exactly how so I’m not 100% certain). Or if you really don’t want to pay for even one phone line, you could use the cellular device trick I mentioned in part 3 of the OBi110 series (I posted the link a couple of message back), although I have NO idea whether that would actually fulfill any legal obligations you might have with regard to 911. But my point is, the best use of that line port would be to provide 911 service, unless you plan to get it from a SIP provider or go some other route to obtain it.

    Just so you know, my thinking is that if you decide to get OBi100′s for the rest of your devices, but you have that one OBi110 plugged into a phone line on the same premises, then in theory you could route 911 calls via the OBiTalk network (or maybe even via direct SIP) to that primary device and send the calls out the LINE port. I have never attempted anything even remotely similar to that, so you might wind up having to check with Obihai’s customer support, or posting a message on the OBiTalk forum, to figure out how to actually do it, assuming that I’m not totally mistaken and that it actually can be done.

    Of course, if you buy all OBi110′s and then just run your single phone line to all 20 line ports, it’s not an issue, at least as long as two people don’t try to call 911 at the same time (but that would be an issue with a regular phone system if you only had one external phone line).

  25. MrGadget said

    Let me see if I can state the problem. Is it possible for two or more OBI110 units to work together in different parts of the world to make use of the FXO port on unit 1, with a request from the FXS on unit 2?

    Specifically, I have a need to make a +1800 type call (various numbers) from a part of the world that does not make/allow these types of calls. The distant Obi110 in this scenario will be Unit 2. The Obi110 with the local/domestic POTS line will be Unit 1.

    Is it possible to setup a prefix/command/route/bridge from Unit 2 to Unit 1 to allow the call to be placed out the FXO POTS line on Unit 1 (unattended)? So, on Unit 2, if I could prefix all calls with something like *12345 then the actual number 18005551212 (or any number), does the Obi110 have the intelligence to setup a link between Unit 2 and Unit 1? Do I need to know the actual number being called every time, and make some type of routing table?

    If not possible using a prefix code, how about routing ALL calls from Unit 2 FXS to Unit 1 FXO?

    Thank you for your interest and ad-hoc support of this amazing device.

    On another note. If I wanted to gain more knowledge and programming of this type of device, what manuals, standards, commands should I look for? Are these units programmed with standard VOIP-type command sets, or are they proprietary? Where is the best place to start? I am very familiar with telephony, networking and systems.

  26. MrGadget, the answer to all your questions is yes (any of the methods you suggested could be configured, as well as a few you probably haven’t thought of). These are possibly the most configurable devices I have ever seen. You can have the two devices communicate with each other using the OBiTALK network or a private network you have set up (using an Asterisk FreeSWITCH server), or I believe in some circumstances direct device-to-device communication is possible using just IP addresses. I would suggest you have a look at the documentation on their Documents & Downloads page, particularly their OBi Device Administration Guide (PDF version, or there is a Web-Based Version). The command sets are a bit different from some other devices (such as Linksys/Sipura devices) but not so different that you’ll have any difficulty picking them up.

    I also suggest that you spend some time perusing the OBiTALK forum. Just be careful who you take advice from — the “resident expert” there (the guy with a high post count that’s NOT a company employee) doesn’t always know what he’s talking about, doesn’t always tell you the most efficient way to do something, and has a real bias against using the OBiTALK portal for configuring devices, which in my opinion is one of the best features in situations like your where you may need to make configuration changes to one of your devices from a remote location. I would just say “don’t listen to the guy at all” except that even a blind squirrel finds an acorn now and then, and every now and then he comes up with some great ideas about dial plan configuration. And, others have wanted to do exactly the sort of thing you want to do, so if you look through the past threads you’ll probably find advice on setting up the very type of configuration you want. Just a tip, if both devices are on the same OBiTALK account (or in the same “Circle of Trust”) then I believe you could use what they call “single stage dialing” to place a call from one device and have it go out the other, without ANY additional configuration.

    One other point — you may not even need two devices. If you are wanting to call only toll-free numbers in the USA, there are several providers that will accept toll-free calls from SIP devices without prior registration and without charging you for the calls (they make their money from the charge levied on the called party). There have been at least two or three threads on DSLreports.com (in their VoIP forum) about the providers that offer toll-free termination (search for “toll free termination” on the DSLreports site, or here’s another reference). As long as IP traffic to those providers isn’t blocked from the originating location, there is no reason you shouldn’t be able to send calls to them directly using just a single OBi100 or OBi110. The drawback to that approach is that the Caller ID that is sent will likely be some number associated with the carrier, not your number, and of course free services are never guaranteed to work. If you are interested in that approach I’d search/ask on the OBiTALK forum to see if anyone has configured their device to work with one or more of these free services.

  27. MrGadget said

    Thank you so much for your rapid reply. I have one unit on order, perhaps I should get another order ASAP so I can begin to learn how to program these units. WOW, I am impressed with the functionality of these little (powerful) devices.

    Although in my deployment, I will be using the Internet (public vs private network), I should be able to establish a connection of the DSL Routers (Public IP) for the OBI units (Note to self — I will need to read up on the port numbers to allow and forward).
    In a test/lab environment, I should be able to accomplish same scenario between the 2 units, on the same network, correct (KISS)? I am probably jumping ahead of my knowledge, but do the units rely on external servers to help with the call setup in this type of application? Or, do the units communicate with each other (over TCP/IP) to determine how to handle the calls? At this point in time, a simple answer is OK since I am on fact finding, not deployement yet. I can find out the gory details once the units are setup.

    It does sound exciting and I am looking forward to learning more about VOIP services. I’ll look into the other locations you mentioned. I have previously downloaded all the OBI manuals and links.

    Thanks again.

  28. MrGadget, you might be making this a lot more complicated than it needs to be. If you let the devices communicate with each other using the OBiTALK network then it matters not whether or not they are on the same local network, as long as you have a working Internet connection, and I don’t think you have to do anything at all to the firewall (unless you have an extremely restrictive firewall). What you may not appreciate is that Obihai has already done most of the hard work for you with their OBiTALK network. You do have the option to use your own server, but the only reason I might suggest that is if any downtime that is beyond your control is totally unacceptable to you. The OBiTALK network is like any other network and there may be times it will go down for one reason or another, but I’d assume that the Obihai folks try to keep that downtime at a minimum. So, yes, the devices are relying on an external server at Obihai, unless you set up your own server. or figure out how to do direct IP to IP communications (I’m afraid I can’t help you with that one, though; I’ve read that it can be done in certain circumstances but it’s not something I’d personally try given the ease of just using the OBiTALK network). You can do it any way you want but I think when you are first starting out it would be a good idea to do everything “the Obihai way” (which, again, means sometimes ignoring their forum know-it-all — I harp on that because the guy is a very frequent poster, very opinionated, has a small group of devotees that think he can do no wrong — and occasionally is very wrong, IMHO). Then once you have at least a few days’ experience with that, you can try other methods if you still feel the need to do so.

  29. MrGadget said

    Thanks again for your insight. At least I have a direction to pursue without re-inventing the wheel, so to speak. I would like it as simple as possible, with the infrastructure already in place.

    Time to start reading. If I may, I might have to contact you again, after I get the hardware, regarding the simplest method to put this together.

    Thanks for the Tip on the forum. I will heed your warning.

  30. MrGadget said

    MT,

    I setup my two Obi110 units. Unit-A (with POTS line connected) and Unit-B (w/o POTS at this point in time). I tested calls between the two units, AA, and POTS, no problems.

    Now I want to perform a simple 1-stage test first, then get more sophisticated. Test-1, Pickup Phone on Unit-B, dial 10-digit number, and have Unit-A place the call from the Line port. Test-2, I would like to change from simple 10-11-digit dialing, to prefix with some type of access code (i.e. 7, or 77, or 9, etc) to gain access to Unit-A, strip off prefix, and then place the 10-11-digit call. Same method as getting an ‘outside’ line from an
    extension.

    Test-1:
    On Unit-B, I configured the OutboundCallRoute and the VoiceGateway2 settings:
    Physical:PhonePort:OutboundCallRoute: added in front of other settings: {(xxxxxxxxxx):vg2},

    and

    VoiceServices:Gateways&TrunkGroups:VoiceGateway2:AccessNumber:
    pp(obUnit-A)

    On Unit-A, I verified access from Unit-B (If I read this right, it says, allow Unit-B with any number and digits to access the LI1 interface)
    VoiceServices:Obitalk:InboundCallRoute:
    {(obUnit-B)>(xx.):LI},….

    I did not make any changes, but I am thinking I may need to add something to VoiceServices:LinePort to allow the outgoing call to connect.

    Saved and Reboot both units. Pickup phone on Unit-B, dial 10-digits (cellphone), and after about 43 seconds, it fails “has not received a response from the service provider”.

    In the Call Status and Call History, I can see some reporting on Unit-B, but nothing in Unit-A (Call History or Call Status). It looks like Unit-B is trying to peer with Unit-A, and forward the 10-digit number, but something is amiss.

    Any thoughts what I am missing? I tried reading the manuals, but they read like riddles sometimes.
    PS. Do you prefer these postings in some other location? Please advise.

  31. holiday said

    Just want to say thank for taking the time to document your setup!

    I was trying the ObiApp for android… I found it to be klunky, and not stable, at least not on my device, anyway… Now i have setup a trunk from my asterisk to my obi, and can use my favorite sip software from anywhere. slick.

  32. Wayne Strife said

    Your answers are very informative and I thank you in advance for any help you can provide. I’m just getting started and will be transitioning from Vonage to OBi110. My plans are to continue with Vonage until my Family is comfortable with the OBi110. However I do not want to have to use separate telephones for each. I simply want to have a single connection in my home telephone wiring and the OBi110 , and use both Google Voice and Vonage. Is there any special configuration on the OBi110 do I need to do to Connect Vonage to the OBi110 on the Line port. My Vonage is set up with one primary number and a second virtual number different area codes.

  33. Wayne, as you suspect you would connect the Vonage adapter to the LINE port on your OBi110. Note that if your virtual number and primary number ring on different ports on the Vonage adapter (in other words, you have a Line 1 and a Line 2) then you will have to pick one of those to connect to the OBi110, or get Vonage to direct both numbers to the same port on their adapter. You then plug your phone into the OBi110 phone port. Any incoming call from either service should ring through to your phone and depending on how you configure you OBi110, all outgoing calls dialed without a prefix will go to whichever you specify as the primary, and you can use a **n prefix to force a call to go a particular route (it’s also possible to set up dialing rules that will automatically send particular calls one way or another, for example you can send 911 calls to Vonage even if you set Google Voice as your primary for “normal” calls). If you have questions and you ask in the OBiTALK forum, you will usually get a relatively prompt reply (note I said “usually”, and beware of the one guy in there that seems to camp out in the forums but sometimes provides questionable advice – see my November 10 comment to MrGadget, above).

  34. Doc said

    Would you have any wisdom to impart or point in the right direction on how to set up the Carrier in a ViciDial solution (using ObiHai/Google Voice Gateway?)

    They don’t use FreePBX with the ViciBox distro – and I’m a total idiot at pre-infant levels on how to configure dialplans and carriers and the sort.

    I can see similar areas from the FreePBX layout to the ViciDial Carrier layout screen – but enough to make my mind oatmeal trying to decipher.

    Thanks.

RSS feed for comments on this post

Comments are closed.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 136 other followers

%d bloggers like this: