Can Google Voice and VoIP help create my perfect phone set up?
July 22, 2009 11:00 AM   Subscribe

In the spirit of Google Voice invites, I'm wondering if there might be cost effective a way to create a phone set up that does the following with two Google Voice numbers, two iPhones, and some sort of voip/sip/pbx/(insert acronym here) home phone solution:

1. If someone calls Google Voice A, iPhone A rings & home phone rings

2. If someone calls Google Voice B, iPhone B rings & home phone rings differently than if someone called GV A

3. Home phone can dial out cheaply or freely to US numbers and (ideally) display on caller IDs as either Google Voice A or B

(Bonus points if the incoming calls can be handled cheaply or freely with low monthly commitments on the home phone)

Am I dreaming? It seems like people are doing tons of wacky stuff with phones these days, but I've been unable to find someone doing this specifically in my Google trawling.
posted by ejoey to Technology (18 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
How about just setting up conditional forwarding on the iPhones so that if iPhone A or iPhone B don't answer or don't have reception, the call will forward to the home and you can eliminate the complexity of having 5 telephone numbers.
posted by eatcake at 12:34 PM on July 22, 2009

You could do it fairly easily if your home phone/voip supports different ringtones based on caller ID. I don't believe Skype does this out of the box, but there's an addon called Wizztones which will let you assign different ringers to each contact.

I use google voice with a Skype in number as a landline replacement and it works great.

However, I've noticed that Skype rings first and that my cell phones ring later on- and ring only a couple times before GV voicemail picks up. (And sadly you can't turn off GV voicemail or set the number of rings).
posted by wongcorgi at 1:03 PM on July 22, 2009

On 3- You can make free calls to US phones by using GV to connect the call. It'll call your specified phone first (I have it call my Skype #, which is free) and then connect your call (with the CID showing up as your GV number)

If you have a data plan on your phone, you can use the GV app which will do the same thing. You might have free US calling already but you can call from your GV number(s) this way.
posted by wongcorgi at 1:08 PM on July 22, 2009

Just as a thought on the skypein line-- you can setup your skype number to have the caller ID of one of your google voice numbers:

Go to and log into one of the accounts. Click the CallerID tab and register your "cell phone". Use one of the google voice numbers. Skype will send a confirmation SMS. This isn't a problem since Google Voice receives SMS.

I think you wanted the option to switch the CallerID to either Google Voice number, but I can't think of a way to do that.
posted by sharkfu at 1:12 PM on July 22, 2009

sharkfu: It's easier to just login to a different google voice account to make that call, also Skype calls out to phones aren't free.
posted by wongcorgi at 1:26 PM on July 22, 2009

eatcake - I'd like to minimize my AT&T minutes and use the GV ring multiple phones option. Call forwarding uses minutes.

everyone else - Thanks for the skype tips. That might be a more elegant solution than what I was thinking I needed to do.
posted by ejoey at 1:35 PM on July 22, 2009

wongcorgi: It's easier if they're using Google Voice on a computer to make outgoing calls, but there aren't any Google Voice --> home phone hardware bridges to make calls from their own home phone, are there? (Besides calling the google voice number first to dial out?) It seems like there are actual dedicated (hardware) skype cordless phones or hardware bridges which I (perhaps incorrectly) assumed the OP was seeking.
posted by sharkfu at 1:41 PM on July 22, 2009

I have 2 google voice numbers, 2 cell phones and 1 sip device. The SIP device is an spa-3102

Number 1 goes to my cell phone and a gizmo5 account which forwards to my home phone (SIP)

Number 2 goes to my wifes phone as well as the same gizmo5 account, which forwards to the home phone.

I can dial out for free using the google voice web frontend from home. I type in the number to call and tell it to ring my home phone.

Any calls I dial like that to my mobile use my minutes.

I could theoretically save on minutes with my wife's phone (Symbian n96) by making it connect to the gizmo5 client over her 3g connection instead of the cellular network. I don't think you can do that on the iphone though.

It might be possible to make the SPA-3102 or other sip device issue different rings based off of the incoming numbers. You can set google voice forwarding to send the gv # as the caller id instead of the callers #. That can be used to flag the rings if the sip device supports it.

Or you could setup 2 gizmo5 accounts and use a 2 line sip device. In theory, I think I can setup my 3102 to do that, but I haven't done so.

The downside of all of this is that the ringthrough to my cell phone is twitchy. This morning My cell phone rang but my home number did not. I think google voice twitchy in regards to ringing a bunch of numbers simultaneously.

I can break down the specifics on how to set this up if you have more questions.

I'll test out the dual ring thing tonight.
posted by Lord_Pall at 1:53 PM on July 22, 2009

Oh yeah.

Total cost for all of this (not including the cells)


Outgoing calls from home are free, incoming calls are free unless I answer the cell first.

Caveat - You need a net connection and a SIP device.. and a phone of some sort..
posted by Lord_Pall at 1:56 PM on July 22, 2009

Wow, that's it! Any more specifics would be great.
posted by ejoey at 2:13 PM on July 22, 2009

sharkfu: I think you might be confused. You initiate calls Google voice on any browser or smartphone, so you can talk on your home phone (just with that extra step). Calling your Google voice number only rings the associated phones.

But you are right, there are no devices that let you just pick up and dial, then talk. Google voice doesn't work that way. Spoofing the CID with Skype bypasses some of the call logging- and doesn't seem to work, GV didn't receive the verification SMS from Skype (tried twice and cost me 40 cents).
posted by wongcorgi at 2:19 PM on July 22, 2009

Go to Gizmo5.
Make an account.
Log in.
Scroll down till you see account overview. That phone number is your sip account.
Either download the PC client or setup a SIP device.
To setup the sip device -
Gizmo5's guide

Go to google voice, click settings, phones.
Add a new phone number. Set the type to Gizmo5, the number to your gizmo 747 number without the 1. The validation requires your sip phone to be setup, so either do that first or use the pc client. That should hook up the forwarding if someone calls your home number.

I'm unsure if the order of forwarding is screwing up my cell vs. home phone. I'm also unsure how dialing out works since I've been using the web dialing frontend for GV.

That should get you up and running. I'll check into the dual rings and multiple lines on the 3102 tonight. Also, right now I'm using 2 GV numbers pointed at 1 Gizmo5 account too. I'm not sure that's the best approach as well, so I'll try to split to 2 Gizmo5 accounts.
posted by Lord_Pall at 2:22 PM on July 22, 2009 [1 favorite]

Also for the iPhone, if you jailbreak it, you can run Skype in the background with Backgrounder (as well as over 3G). You can then use the GV app to call your Skype, then pick it up, costing 0 minutes and solely data.

It worked well for me over Wifi, but I never tried the 3G route.
posted by wongcorgi at 2:24 PM on July 22, 2009

Update - 3102 only does 1 line, so the 2 gizmo5 accounts are a no-go.

There is a setting for distinctive rings based on incoming criteria on the sip box, so that's going to be your best bet.

I'm still working on the ringthrough. It's looking like it's only my crummy cell that's causing trouble..

The rest works peachy.
posted by Lord_Pall at 8:02 AM on July 23, 2009

Gizmo5 just added native google voice support to their members section. On your account settings it'll list google voice calling.

I can now dial directly out from the sip phone..

posted by Lord_Pall at 8:43 AM on July 27, 2009

Awesome. Can't wait for my 3102 to arrive.
posted by ejoey at 10:00 AM on July 27, 2009

Lord_Pall: "Gizmo5 just added native google voice support to their members section. On your account settings it'll list google voice calling."

FYI: From a website, re: Gizmo+ Gvoice: "There is now a notice on the page that this is an experimental service and calls will be limited to 20 minutes."

I can't confirm this, just wanted to mention it in case your calls are getting cut off.
posted by sharkfu at 12:44 AM on July 28, 2009

Gizmo5 just cut this to 3 minutes, 2 cents a minute afterwards

I'm investigating the asterisk integration now.
posted by Lord_Pall at 10:47 AM on July 31, 2009

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