Wednesday, 24 July 2013

FreePhoneLine.ca, Google Voice and OBi100 Equal Free Canadian Phone Calling

When it comes to finding ways to make free phone calls to PSTN landlines and mobile phones across Canada, I've discovered that Obihai's OBi100 VoIP ATA, when configured with Canada's FreePhoneLine.ca plus Google Voice, together can make a formidable VoIP combination that's hard to beat.

For Canada wide free calling, the combination of FreePhoneLine.ca and Google Voice complement each other - one taking up the slack where the other leaves off.  And, the OBi100 makes this possible in one tiny little ATA box (Analog Telephone Adapter).



While, FreePhoneLine.ca only makes free calls across Canada to the major metropolitan centres, Google Voice can make free calls to most all rate centres across Canada (not to mention most all of the USA, too).  And, while Google Voice doesn't provide free incoming PSTN phone numbers to Canadians, FreePhoneLine.ca does provide a free PSTN number. As well, FreePhoneLine.ca also provides free Canadian e911 emergency access, which Google Voice does not.  So, in a sense, these two services when configured into the OBi100 makes for the perfect Canadian odd couple.

Today, I'm going to show you how to manually configure and combine the best of two worlds into one - FreePhoneLine.ca as your primary default service, and  Google Voice  as your number two long distance VoIP provider..... both in one box... and both using just one analog telephone jack on the OBi100 ATA.

This will be another one of my in a "nutshell" series for the OBi100.  And, when I say in a nutshell, I mean just the bare bones basics of getting started configuring two VoIP services into the OBi100 instead of just one.

So, let's get started.


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 both FreePhoneLine.ca and the Google Voice Gateway.


                                                    ---------------------------------
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 my  tutorials are 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.)

                                                    ---------------------------------



Assumptions and Prerequisites
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 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 now 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 purchased a Fongo or FreePhoneLine.ca "VoIP Unlock Key" and have your login credentials handy for configuring the OBi100.
  • 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 for Google Voice access.

    NOTE:   Some people feel more secure setting up their Gmail accounts (or Google Apps, which I use) 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 FreePhoneLine.ca and Gmail/Google Voice accounts.  



The Plan
Because we are configuring two separate VoIP services on the OBi100, we will first configure your default primary provider under ITSP Profile A and correspondingly under Voice Services as SP1.  For the purpose of this article, these first sections will be configured with FreePhoneLine.ca service.

Then, we will configure your secondary VoIP provider under ITSP Profile B and correspondingly under Voice Services SP2 , which will be configured for Google Voice service.


Let's Begin



**1


Configuring FreePhoneLine.ca as ITSP Profile A and SP1

For Canadians who previously used the Dell Voice and Fongo SIP VoIP Unlock Key to access Canada wide free calling, those services have now been transitioned over to their sister service FreePhoneLine.ca.

I originally started with a Dell Voice - Fongo account and purchased their "VoIP Unlock Key". However, the following outlined configuration settings are working just fine for me on my OBi100 and the OBi202 with the FreePhoneLine.ca proxy server settings outlined below.




  • Click on the Service Providers - ITSP Profile A smenu option to expand its sub-menu list.
  • Click on "General" sub-menu option, under ITSP Profile A.
  • Observe that the Signaling Protocol is set to:  SIP  (as it should be, by default).
  • Just for your own reference purposes, you can fill in the "Name" field with "FreePhoneLine-Fongo", or whatever you want to label this ITSP configuration profile.  (optional).

The OBi100 default Digit Map will only partially accommodate FreePhoneLine dialing needs.

This is the Default Digit Map already set in the OBi100:
(1xxxxxxxxxx|<1>[2-9]xxxxxxxxx|011xx.|xx.|(Mipd)|[^*#]@@.)


  • I'm recommending the following Digit Map for use with FreePhoneLine.ca:  (*xx|911|1xxxxxxxxxx|<1>[2-9]xxxxxxxxx|011xx.|xx.|(Mipd)|[^*#]@@.)
    This digit map will allow you to also access Voice Mail (*98) and 911 emergency dialing.
  • Clear the existing default OBi100 Digit Map.  (First, uncheck its associated default check box.)
  • Copy and past the above recommended digit map in place of the default digit map. 


Optional Settings:    STUNEnable and STUNServer
You may want to Enable STUN Server support and specify a STUN server to assist with VoIP NAT traversal issues.  This is an optional setting, but is often very useful if you experience incoming call issues.

I typically will specify stun.counterpath.net or stun.3cx.com as the STUN server name to use.

  • When finished editing this page, click the Submit button at the bottom of the window, before proceeding to the next step.

  • Next, click on the OK button to proceed with submitting the changes:


    (You do not need to reboot, just yet, until finished submitting all changes.)



  • Now, click on the SIP sub-menu item, also listed under ITSP Profile A.
    Here, you will be setting the Proxy and Registrar server values for FreePhoneLine.ca.


While in ITSP Profile ASIP settings window, edit the following fields with voip.freephoneline.ca, or  voip2.freephoneline.ca as the Proxy and Registrar server: 


  • Proxy Server:                voip.freephoneline.ca      (or, voip2.freephoneline.ca )
  • Registrar Server:          voip.freephoneline.ca      (should match Proxy Server used)


The OBi ATA's default to a Registration Period of only 60 seconds.  Typically, many industry standard ATA's will default to a registration period of 3600 seconds.  Fongo/FreePhonLine.ca is recommending 3600 seconds.  However, many VoIP users have found 3600 seconds to not always be frequent enough to maintain reliable registration.  Thus, I often tend to compromise somewhere around 360 seconds registration intervals.


  • When finished editing the server values, scroll down to the bottom of the page and click the Submit button.

  • Next, click on the OK button to proceed with submitting the changes:


    (You do not need to reboot, just yet, until finished submitting all changes.)



  • Now, click on the Voice Services menu option, making sure its options list is expanded.
  • Next, click on SP1 Service sub-menu option.
  • Optional Settings:   X_KeepAliveEnable
    Enabling Keep Alive can be useful for reducing the chances of loss of incoming calls and audio. Enabling Keep Alive essentially triggers periodic querying of the proxy/registrar servers to keep the incoming VoIP RTP ports open on the ATA for incoming calls and audio.

  • Now, scroll down to the SIP Credentials section of SP1, and set the following login values:

    AuthUserName:   xxxxxxxxxxx (Your 11-digit  DV, Fongo, or FPL account phone #)
    AuthPassword:      xxxxxxxxxx   (Your DV, Fongo, or FreePhoneLine.ca  SIP password )
  • Scroll down to the bottom portion of  SP1 page.
  • When finished editing, click the Submit button at the bottom of the page.
  • Next, click on the OK button to proceed with submitting the changes:


(You do not need to reboot, just yet, until finished submitting all changes.)



**2

     
  • Click on the Service Providers menu option (left-window navigation pane)
  • Click on the ITSP Profile B menu option to expand its sub-menu list.
  • Click on "General" sub-menu option.
  • Set the Signaling Protocol to:  Google Voice  (first, "uncheck" the Default check box next to it)

  • When finished editing, click the Submit button at the bottom of the page.
  • Next, click on the OK button to proceed with submitting the changes:


(You do not need to reboot, just yet, until finished submitting all changes.)


  • Next, click on Voice Services menu to expand its sub-menu list.
  • Click on the SP2 Service sub-menu item.
  • While in the SP2 Service settings page, change the Service Provider Profile setting from A to B.

    X_ServProvProfile:   B
    This setting will correlate the ITSP Profile B settings to the SP2 service provider settings for our service configuration for Google Voice.

  • While in the SP2 Service window, scroll down to the section labeled SIP Credentials
  • Fill in the following VoIP service login authentication text boxes.  In this instance, it will be your Google Gmail login email address, and password (or, application specific password, if applicable).

    AuthUserName:     Your GMail, or Google Apps email address.
    AuthPassword:       Your Gmail, or Google Apps password (or, Application Specific PW).

Note:  If you have enabled 2-Step Verification in your Google account, you will need to generate and provide your Application Specific password  as the AuthPassword (specifically generate one for your OBi100 ATA).   I have done this, and it works for me.  (I'm also using the Google Apps version of Gmail/Google Voice, from within Canada).

  • When finished editing, click the Submit button at the bottom of the page.
  • Click on the OK button to proceed with submitting the changes:


Now, to finalize all setting changes, we are ready to Reboot the OBi100.
This is the final step to complete our  OBi100 configuration settings for service with FreePhoneLine.ca and Google Voice VoIP accounts.  

  • Click the REBOOT button located in the window upper-right corner.

Rebooting your OBi100 ATA only takes about 20 seconds to complete.


* * *

After rebooting, I highly recommend that you go back and review all changed values and settings and confirm that they have been set correctly........ it's very easy to make a mistake.

* * * * *

Obviously, there are numerous additional settings that are possible for tweaking the configuration and performance of your ATA.  But, configuring and enabling the bare bones basics was the theme of this article.



Three VoIP Services  -  One Telephone
While we have configured the OBi100 with two explicitly independent VoIP providers ( FreePhoneLine.ca and Google Voice), we actually now have three independent VoIP services at out finger tips, in one box:

  1. SP1   Default Primary Line, or  **1 )
    FreePhoneLine.ca - for free calling across Canada to major Canadian metropolitan cities.  Includes free PSTN accessible phone number for inbound calls, plus e911 emergency service.
  2. SP2    **2 )
    Google Voice - for free outbound calling from Canada to any USA/Canada PSTN landline or mobile telephone numbers.  (Free at least until the end of 2013.... then we will see...)

    Unfortunately, here in Canada we cannot obtain a Google assigned PSTN reachable telephone number like our American neighbours do for receiving inbound calls.
  3. OBiTalk Network   (**9)
    OBiTalk network - for free Obi in-network calling between any two world-wide accessible OBi devices.  No calling fees whatsoever.


Line Selection and Call Routing
So, with three VoIP services in one box, connected to a single analog telephone line, how do we differentiate between FreePhoneLine.ca, Google Voice, and OBi-to-OBi calls when placing an outbound call?

If you want to specify a specific line to place a call on, you will use the **x access code to select the line and service provider to route the call through.


FreePhoneLine.ca  -  (**1) - Default Line - SP1 Line
By default, SP1 is the default outgoing service line that will be used if you do not specify a **x access code at the beginning of dialing a call.  Because we have configured FreePhoneLine.ca under the SP1 service provider, by default all outgoing calls will be routed through your FreePhoneLine.ca account.

For example, if you explicitly dial a 10-digit number such as "613-745-1576" as a PSTN landline destination, by default this call will automatically be directed through your FreePhoneLine.ca account.  However, you could also get the same results by preceding the number with **1.  i.e.   **1-613-745-1576.


Google Voice Calls  -   (**2 SP2 Line - 
Because Google Voice is currently configured with the SP2 line, you will need to pre-dial **2 at the beginning of all calls that you want routed through your Google Voice account.

For example, if I wanted to place and route my call to 800-466-4411 through Google Voice, I would dial it as follows:   **2-800-466-4411.

And, for example, if you want to call someone in Canada that is not covered by FreePhoneLine.ca's free calling zone, then just direct those calls via your Google Voice account.

Note:
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


OBi-to-OBi In-Network Calls  -  **9   -  OBi Network
If you want to route specific calls directly to your family, friends, associates, etc. who also have OBi ATA's connected, you will begin those calls with the **9 access code, followed by the OBi ATA device 9-digit number you wish to call.  An example of this is when you dial the OBiTalk Echo Test server at:
**9-222-222-222


Making Test VoIP Calls
The following is a list of numbers for making some test calls.


Via FreePhone.ca:

The following numbers can be dialed, as is, without the need to precede the call with the **1 code (default dialing).    All phone numbers listed below are Free Calls via your FreePhoneLine.ca account:
(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


Checking FreePhoneLine.ca Voice Mail
The star code used for accessing FreePhoneLine.ca Voice Mail is *98.
But, this is a problem on the OBi ATA's when FreePhoneLine.ca is the default primary line for direct dialing.  As it turns out, *98 is an internal OBi ATA code for  initiating a "Blind Transfer".

I have come up with three optional work a-rounds for this:
  1. Directly dial your 10-digit FreePhoneLine.ca phone number.  e.g.:  xxx-xxx-xxxx
    Or,
  2. Use SP1 access code before dialing *98.  e.g.:   **1*98
    Or,
  3. Log into the OBi ATA and navigate to "Star Codes"  menu item.  Then click on "Star Code Profile A" menu item.  At the bottom of Star Code Profile A page, locate the line-item labeled "Code28".  Uncheck the Default check-box for this line.
    Then, clear the code entry:  "*98, Blind Transfer, coll($Bxrn)" from the text box.
    Click the SUBMIT button at bottom of the page.
    REBOOT the ATA.

    Now, in the future when you dial *98 from the default line (Profile A/SP1) you will connect diectly with FreePhoneLine.ca Voice Mail.



Via Google Voice:
All numbers routed below are preceded with **2 code:

Google Voice can call all the same Canadian listed numbers above for free.  (At least until the end of 2013)

Here are a couple USA based phone numbers you can place test calls to:

  • WWV - National Bureau of Standards Talking Time Tick (Colorado):    303-499-7111
    e.g.:  dialed as:   **2-303-499-7111
  • WWVH - National Standards Talking Time Tick (Hawaii):  808-335-4363
    e.g.:  dialed as:   **2-808-335-4363
  • iNum Echo Test via iNum Gateway in Albuquerque, NM:  505-225-8243
    At the voice prompt enter the iNum Echo Test number:  883-510-000-000-091#
    e.g.:   **2-505-225-8243 - pause - at the prompt, enter 883-510-000-000-091#


Good luck with your OBi100 configured with FreePhoneLine.ca and Google Voice VoIP services.


P.S.
Remember, everything I have presented here is based on local manual configuration of your OBi100.  For it to function as presented here, it is assumed that your OBi100 is not linked to the OBiTalk configuration and administration portal at www.obitalk.com.  Otherwise, the remote administration aspects of their remote administration may overwrite any and all settings presented in this article.