Thursday, 6 June 2013

Free Obihai World-Wide In-Network Phone Calling Using the OBi100 VoIP ATA

The Obihai line of VoIP ATA's (Analog Telephone Adapters) have a very unique feature which allows you to call directly from one OBi ATA to any other OBi ATA, for free, with zero configuration.  And, this is just one of three powerful service options that make the OBi line of ATA's attractive, from my perspective.

The three unique service features I'm referring to are:
  1. OBi-to-OBi, phone-to-phone "in-network" calling with zero device configuration.
  2. Google Voice gateway access for phone calling via your Gmail Google Voice account, call phone feature.
  3. Open (unlocked) and configurable with any BYOD SIP VoIP provider of your choice.  In this mode, the features and cost of making phone calls strictly depends on the VoIP service provider (VSP) you choose to configure the OBi device with and call through.
While the ability to place free "in-network" calls within a given VSP's IP network is not unique to Obihai, and the ability to configure an ATA with various VSP's is also not a unique feature, what is somewhat unique in the VoIP industry is the ability to configure a VoIP ATA directly with Google Voice.

But, what really makes the Obihai line of ATA's really special and unique, is the combination of all three features in one box.

For the purposes of this article, I will be focusing my attention on OBi-to-OBi in-network free calling via the OBiTalk IP network.  And, because I'm doing my initial testing with the OBi100 VoIP ATA, this is the device I'll be primarily referring to throughout this article.

How to Achieve Free World-Wide In-Network VoIP Phone Calling 
All you will need to achieve world-wide free phone calling on the Obihai OBiTalk VoIP network is at least one OBi100 ATA.  However, in this case, you will also need to have friends, family, or associates who also have an OBi100 ATA.

When two parties have their own OBi100, it really doesn't matter where around the world they live, they can easily call each other simply by picking up their attached analog telephone and dialing the other party's 9-digit  OBi call number.  (Every OBi ATA comes with its own unique preassigned 9-digit in-network calling number.)  In which case, the other party's OBi device will ring.  When the other party picks-up the call, you can now talk for as long as they like.... for free.  No time limits, no quota's, no monthly fees.... nada.

I should note that when making calls over the OBiTalk network, you must precede the OBi device 9-digit number with **9, followed by the 9-digit number to call.  Thus, you would dial:  **9-xxx-xxx-xxx to make your OBi in-network calls.

Now, I expect that not too many people actually know other people who just happen to have an OBi100 ATA running in their home, or office.  But, if you have family, relatives, or even best friends that you want to keep in closer contact with, why not purchase an extra one or two OBi100's and send one to your mother, father, brother, sister, or whoever that other person may be that you want to be able to call, and talk to as often and as long as you like, ...... for free.  True enough, there is a one time cost to purchase the OBi100 ATA.  But, that's it.... it's only a one time cost.  From then on, it's unlimited calling for as long and often as you like.... free.... to and from anywhere in the world, if you have access to a high-speed broadband Internet connection.

But, Aren't There Other BYOD VoIP Services That Offer Free In-Network Calling?
Yes, there are.  For example, I also use CallCentric and who also provide free in-network calling between accounts.

So, What Makes Obihai different In Terms of Free In-Network Calling?
Well, Obihai sells their own VoIP ATA hardware which comes "pre-configured" from the factory to make calls directly over the OBiTalk VoIP network to other OBiTalk enabled ATA's.

So, for example, if I wanted to take advantage of the CallCentic and free in-network calling features, I would first have to purchase a VoIP ATA, such as the Cisco SPA112, and then manually configure it for service with CallCentric on Line-1, and on Line-2.

But, the Obihai line of ATA's come Plug-and-Play ready for talking over the OBiTalk network to any other OBi device that is also connected to the Internet.  This is a big bonus.

August 2010
Obihai is no longer offering the OBi100 in their product line.  However, the OBi200 offers the same features as OBi100 along with many more additional features.