Monday, 3 June 2013

Manually Configure Obihai OBi100 With Google Voice From Scratch - In Canada


One of the outstanding attributes of the Obihai OBi100 VoIP telephone adapter (ATA) is its ability to place VoIP phone calls to PSTN and mobile phone numbers using your Google Voice account configured directly into the OBi100.  And, for Free, at least until the end of 2013.

Our American friends have had this ability for some time now.  However, it's only in more recent times that we Canadians have been able to get our hands on the Obihai line of VoIP ATA's here in Canada.


One of the problems we have here in Canada using Gmail's "Call Phone" feature is that we are not allowed to upgrade to the full version of Google Voice, which includes an incoming DID (PSTN style phone number) and call forwarding features, etc.  However, most Canadians who have Gmail accounts are aware of, and have been using, the Gmail Call Phone feature which allows us to also make voice calls to PSTN landline and mobile phones via our Gmail accounts on our PC's, laptops, and tablets.

With an Obihai ATA, we Canadians too can place outbound calls to landlines and mobile phones across USA and Canada for free (at least through 2013) while using a regular analog telephone, just as if we were placing a landline POTS call (plain old telephone service).  And, no PC is required to make these calls.  (However, you do need high-speed Internet.)

Because I'm located in Canada, and testing the OBi100 from an Internet service provider located in Canada, I will be presenting this article primarily for the benefit of Canadians who would like to know how to configure their own Obi100 VoIP adapter for service with Google Voice, and enjoy free USA/Canada phone calls without needing to be tied to a PC or laptop to make those calls.

As well, I will be presenting a completely "manual" method of configuring the OBi100 with Google Voice.  My procedures that follow will not require any linking or direct connection to the OBiTalk administration portal (at www.obitalk.com) and will not require remote administration via the OBiTalk network.  All my administration of the OBi100 will be via my local LAN network.  This article is about how I do it manually, the DIY way.

So here we go...

In this article, it is my intention to walk you through the basics of how to quickly (relatively speaking) configure your shiny new OBi100 ATA directly with Google Voice using one of your Gmail accounts.  I say, "one of your Gmail accounts" because it is generally recommended that you create a separate Gmail account from the one you normally use, if you are a regular Gmail user like I am.  You will then use the separate Gmail account strictly (or primarily) for connecting your OBi100 ATA VoIP adapter to.  (It's not a requirement to use a 2nd account - just a recommendation.)

To achieve the goal of quick (and reliable) setup, I will recommend that the ATA be initially "factory reset" to it's default values (this way, we're starting on the same page, literally).  Then, I will point out only the essential settings that "must be edited" in order to connect and achieve service registration with the Google Voice Gateway using your Gmail account login credentials.

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NOTE:
My procedure outlined here is based on the premise that your OBi100 is NOT, and will not be, linked to the OBiTalk web portal at www.obitalk.com using their "Add Device" feature.  If you "add your device" to the OBiTalk portal, the portal will takeover administration of your OBi device by remotely administering your OBi100 via the portal (which is fine, if that is what you want, but this tutorial is not based on that premise).  Thus, any local administration settings you do locally to your OBi100, via your web browser via your LAN side administration, can be over-ridden by the OBiTalk remote administration portal periodically, or upon device reboot.  Thus, to proceed with my procedures here, and if your OBi100 is/was previously configured via OBiTalk portal, then I recommend you "unlink" and remove your OBi100 from OBiTalk portal (remove from "Add Device" list) first, followed by a factory reset to ensure you are starting with default configuration values.

Remember, the premise of my tutorials are to allow you to locally and manually configure your OBi100 without interaction with the OBiTalk remote administration portal at www.obitalk.com.  (My goal is to show you how to DIY without any 3rd party interaction.)

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The good news is that the OBi100 ATA can actually be configured with your existing Google Voice account in less than 5 minutes.  And, you will be able to make free USA/Canada phone calls at that point (and, using a regular telephone). Even from Canada.

In order to proceed with the quick and easy setup procedure, a few assumptions must be made and prerequisites met:

Assumptions and Prerequisites
  • You need to know how to login to the OBi100 -  I explain how:  HERE.
  • The OBi100 has not been locked-down by a VSP (VoIP Service Provider).
  • The OBi100 is not linked to OBiTalk Portal via "Add Device" method on OBiTalk website.
  • Make sure the OBi100 is Ethernet connected to a LAN port on your NAT-Router.
  • Your NAT-Router must be set to issue DHCP IP addresses to LAN connected devices.
  • Your NAT-Router must not be blocking "outbound" ports 5060, 5061, 6800, 5222, 5223, 10000 to 11000, 16600 to 16998, or 19305.  (Most home routers do not usually block outbound traffic.)
  • You have an analog telephone plugged into the ATA Phone-1 port.
  • You know how to perform a Factory Reset (Reset Configuration to Defaults) - I explain how:  HERE.
  • Once you know how to perform a Factory Reset, I recommend that you do so, before proceeding.
    (This is an important step to be sure that what works for me will work for you, too.)
  • Your OBi100 is running the latest Firmware version.  If not, I explain how to check/update:  HERE.
  • Your OBi100 is powered-up and ready to be configured.
  • Test that your OBi100 is working properly by placing an ECHO TEST call to the Obihai Echo Test Server, by dialing **9-222-222-222 from your telephone that is connected to the OBi100.  (The OBi100 can magically do this without any configuration changes from factory defaults.)
  • You have setup a Gmail account and have your login username and password handy.
  • You will need to validate your Gmail "Call Phone" feature by making a phone call from your PC to a landline/mobile number.  Once you have done that successfully, you are ready to configure your OBi100 with Google Voice access.

    NOTE:   Some people feel more secure setting up their Gmail (or Google Apps, which I use) accounts to use "2-Step Verification".  And, if you use 2-step verification, alternate login devices such as with your OBi100 will require that you setup an "Application Specific Password" for account login from that alternate device.  While, I use 2-step verification (and have been for years now), you are not required to do so in order to use Google Voice with your OBi100 ATA.  I'm just letting you know that the OBi100 will work with Google Voice even if your account is protected with 2-step verification AND an application specific password. (If 2-Step Verification is enabled on your Gmail account, then you will be required to use an Application Specific Password to login with OBi100 ATA)


Now that we have all the assumptions and prerequisites out of the way, what remains is only to configure the non-default essentials required to successfully login/register the OBi100 with your Gmail/Google Voice account, via the Google Voice gateway.  

So, lets get started.
  • Login to the OBi100 configuration utility using your PC web browser.
  • Navigate to (click on) the ITSP Profile A menu option, located in the left-hand navigation column.
  • Click on "General" menu option (located under ITSP Profile A).
  • Set the Signaling Protocol to:  Google Voice  (first "uncheck" the Default check box next to it)
  • Click the Submit button at the bottom of the window.



  • When a pop-up dialog window appears, click the OK button to proceed;  otherwise Cancel to abort.


  • You will then be greeted with the Configuration Update Successful screen.

    Once you have previously clicked OK, you could reboot.  However, the previous submission will temporarily be saved until we finish making more changes, and then we will Reboot.
  • Next, click on Voice Services menu item in the left navigation window pane.


  • Then, click on SP1 Service menu item, located directly under Voice Services menu.


  • Locate the SIP Credentials section located in the middle of the SP1 Service page.
  • In the text box labeled AuthUserName, enter your Gmail or Google APP's User Name.  This is your account email address.  (i.e.  yourname@gmail.com  or, yourname@yourGoogleAPPSdomain.com if using Google Apps like me).
  • In the text box labeled AuthPassword, enter your Gmail or Google APP's password.

NOTE:
If you are using 2-Step-Verification, you will need to enter your Application Specific Password that you manually generate in your Google Account Settings Security section.  I myself am using an application specific password generated specifically for my OBi100 login.

  • Now, click on the Submit button at the bottom of the SP1 Service page:
  • Click on the OK button to proceed with submitting the changes:

  • Once again, you will be greeted with the Configuration Update Successful window screen.
  • This is the final step to complete our quick and easy OBi100 configuration setting for service with Google Voice:   Click the REBOOT button located in the window upper-right corner.


Rebooting your OBi100 only takes about 15 seconds.


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While, there is a mind boggling array of potentially editable configuration parameters within the OBi100, we only needed to configure three parameters to enable the ATA to make successful VoIP based phone calls via the Google Voice gateway.  From this perspective, the OBi100 is a very smart little VoIP box for connecting to your Google Voice account.
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Obviously, there are numerous additional settings for tweaking the configuration and performance of your ATA.  But, configuring and enabling the bare bones basics was the theme of this article.   And, it works.


Start Making Google Voice Phone Calls

If you started with the OBi100 configuration default values, and only changed the three values and entries described in the above bullet points, you should have a dial tone and now be able to make outbound calls with your ATA using Google Voice.  Following, I provide some phone numbers for testing phone calls from Google Voice via the OBi100.

All Phone numbers listed below are Free Calls via your Google Voice connected ATA phone:
(At least free through 2013...)


Canadian Weather Lines:

  • Victoria, BC     wx:        250-363-6717
  • Calgary, AB     wx:        403-299-7878
  • Edmonton, AB  wx:       780-468-4940
  • Regina, SK       wx:       306-780-5744
  • Winnipeg, MB   wx       204-983-2050
  • Montreal, QC    wx:      514-283-4006

Other Test Numbers:

  • National Research Council, Canada - Talking Clock:    613-745-1576
  • Google411 (decommissioned; but, still fun to call):    800GOOG411 (800-466-4411)
  • iNum Echo Test:
     1.  Dial the Vancouver, BC  iNum gateway number:  778-786-3497
     2.  At the iNum IVR voice prompt, enter the iNum Echo Test number: 883-5100-0000-0091


NOTE on Google Chat Caller-ID associated with outbound calls:
Because, here in Canada we cannot get a Google Voice inbound PSTN style DID phone number, you need to know that all your outbound Google Voice initiated calls will show a California Caller-ID as the Caller-ID associated with your outbound phone calls.  Currently, my outbound Google Voice calls are tagged as coming from:  Escondido, Ca - 1-760-705-8888.  
Here is Google's online-help related confirmation on this Caller-ID number:  Here



I have now covered the bare-bones essentials of "manually" configuring your OBi100 ATA with Google Voice and placing a few test calls.

Enjoy!

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UPDATE:
(Dec. 30, 2013)
This update is for the benefit of Obi110 users.

I have received a few emails from Obi110 users who have tried to follow my Obi100 procedures to configure their Obi110 devices.  They tell me they receive a " No Service Configuration Error " when making a call.  One of my insightful readers tells me that he resolved the error issue by making the following configuration changes:

" Go into Physical Devices->PHONE and change the Primary Line from PTSN to SP1 Service.

 Hopefully, this update will help other Obi110 users, too.

P.S.
I do not have or use the Obi110 myself and thus cannot provide any further information on Obi110 configuration issues.