Home phone service for Google Voice XMPP refugees?
April 16, 2014 8:09 PM   Subscribe

Like a lot of folks, I bought an Obihai VOIP adapter primarily for the free Google Voice XMPP calling, and like a lot of folks, I'm saddened by the loss of the essentially free home phone service. Obihai has listed Anveo and Phone Power as "Approved Service Partners", but there seem to be a lot of other options out there, and I was just wondering if anyone has any recommendations for BYOD VOIP providers that are affordable but also likely to be around in a year or two so I don't have to find a new provider on short notice.
posted by tonycpsu to Computers & Internet (8 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
I don't use an Obihai, but Voip.ms has been very good for my Grandstream HT486 and the SIP VoIP app on my iPhone. They seem pretty stable business-wide and periodically add new server locations.
posted by zsazsa at 9:22 PM on April 16, 2014

yep same situation here.

first, there are some workarounds if you don't mind a little extra hassle:
- get a free US number from callcentric (free if you don't mind not having e911, just make sure to put a non-USA country, in the very first instance where it asks your location. otherwise, small monthly fee for 911)
- add said number to the obi (callcentric is one of the built-ins of the wizard, so, even easier)
- add said number to your GV. you'll now get incoming calls.
- for outgoing calls, use GV web interface. (you may have to change a GV setting to make sure outgoing caller ID is your GV number and not the callcentric number, I forget what the default is.) this is the part of most hassle. I don't mind it since I was using it that way for years already, anyway.

alternately, there are some new devices that promise to still work, with some new non-xmpp method. if this is true, I suspect obihai won't be far behind. I'd almost certainly purchase it in future, but I don't plan to rely on this as a solution.

as for providers, it's always hard to choose. I've been using sixtel/vitelity for about 10 years and can't complain. obihai is likely getting something out of promoting those 2 specific providers, but I wouldn't discount their recommendation either - they certainly don't want to look bad.
posted by dorian at 9:35 PM on April 16, 2014 [1 favorite]

I looked into this as I am also a GV user (but I just have it re-route to my mobile mostly). Some commenters on articles said they had a GVMate which was not impacted by the loss of XMPP.
posted by getawaysticks at 5:54 AM on April 17, 2014

Not quite answering my own question here, but I did find this thread at SlickDeals with some other suggestions. It'll take some time to go through all of them, and I suspect there will be a consensus developing as the mid-May deadline approaches, so I'm just including the link here for posterity.
posted by tonycpsu at 8:01 AM on April 17, 2014

Anveo is $85/year, with 911 service and 500 mins/month outgoing, unlimited inbound. Not certain if this is an ongoing price, or a one-time-only special deal for Obi customers. It's the best rate so far - Callcentric makes you buy both an outgoing and incoming call plan, $13/month, and they charge you by the minute for both and they nickel-and-dime you for stuff like caller ID.

Ooma is $150 for the box, but less than $4/month for service, or $48/yr. If you keep the service for 5 years or you use the phone a ton for outbound calls, and they keep rates the same, it may be worth it to ditch the Obi.

As a side note, this is yet another reminder that Google cannot be relied upon for essential services.
posted by Slap*Happy at 8:41 AM on April 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

callcentric incoming can still be 100% free, if you opt out of e911 and stick with one of their NY state phone#s. which, if you're presenting yourself as your GV number, won't matter since no one will see or know the horrible Ithaca area code you were given. caller ID works fine on the free program; there are no taxes and no fees. and I believe you can pair this with paid outgoing.

if they are jacking people with silly various fees for the paid incoming plans, that is not so cool.

As a side note, this is yet another reminder that Google cannot be relied upon for essential services.

YES. THIS. I would never rely or depend on it for business, and at some point outgoing calls will stop being free - they have been saying that for years and it's still free, but it'll happen at some point.

similarly for callcentric. they probably don't like to support the consumers paying $0.00 every month (I get a monthly bill and yes that is what it says on the bill) for their service, and at some point the promotional value will have diminished. I won't be surprised or upset if/when they killed the free program.

but this is also very biased from someone who spends extremely little time on the phone, to be honest.
posted by dorian at 9:37 AM on April 17, 2014

If you don't mind using an iOS device instead of your home phones, Google Hangouts on iOS supports both making and receiving calls over wifi. Google Hangouts on Android doesn't, which makes no sense at all, but I'm hoping will change before the XMPP cutoff.
posted by still_wears_a_hat at 6:55 AM on April 18, 2014

How to get cheap home phone service with OBi -- and without Google

I think at this point, PhonePower seems to be the ticket.
posted by tonycpsu at 5:56 PM on May 5, 2014

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