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How to Switch to VoIP and Ditch Your Home Phone Bill Forever

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You can enjoy the convenience of a whole-house land line without shelling out your hard earned money to your local telecommunications provider. Read on as we show you how to ditch the phone bill, keep the land line, and enjoy free local and long distance calling in the process.

How It Works/Why Should I Do This?

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There are three ways you can pipe phone service into your home: a traditional land line setup through your local phone provider that brings phone service over copper wires to your home, a cell-phone bridge that extends your cellular plan to your home phone system via local cell towers, and a Voice-over-IP (VoIP) system that uses your Internet connection to bridge your home phone system to a VoIP provider that routes your phone calls back out to the regular telephone grid.

Traditional Land Lines: Traditional land line setups are generally expensive for what you get. Basic packages run around $15 a month and don’t include regional or national long distance calling, or amenities like caller ID. Adding in a modest long distance package and those amenities can easily push the price of a standard land line above $40-50 a month. Traditional phone service includes a host of taxes, regulatory fees, and other charges that can easily add $15 to your bill.

Cellphones: Bridging your cellphone plan to your home phone system—whether via a special device provided by your cell company or with a home phone that supports Bluetooth linking—is also expensive as you generally need to purchase a second line on your cell plan and/or potentially add extra minutes with an upgraded plan to cover the home phone usage. For most people this would add on anywhere from $10-40 on their already pricey cellphone plan. Like traditional land lines, cellphone lines also incur taxes and regulatory fees.

Voice-over-IP Systems: VoIP is  the newest method of linking your home phone system to the outside world and varies wildly in terms of service quality and price. Many Internet Service Providers (ISPs) now bundle VoIP calling with their internet packages but the price of the add-on phone service is routinely as expensive as a traditional land line ($30-40). Depending on the provider, VoIP services may or may not collect taxes and regulatory fees—generally, if your VoIP service is bundled with your internet and/or cable service provided by a traditional telecommunications company, you will be paying the additional fees just like you would with a land line or cellphone.

Regardless of the method you select, there is a good chance that just keeping your home phone line active will cost you anywhere between $200-600 annually—money we would all certainly be happy to spend on other things.

In an effort to reduce our own telecommunication expenses and, more importantly, to find the best solution for our readers wishing to do the same, we have trialed a wide variety of VoIP systems and bridging techniques. The following guide to combining your internet connection, inexpensive OBi hardware, and a free Google Voice account is the best value around.

What You’ll Need

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To follow along with our VoIP tutorial you will the following things:

  • Broadband Internet Access (Unfortunately, VoIP is prohibitively bandwidth-hungry for dial-up).
  • One OBi100 ($38 ), OBi110 ($50), or OBi202 ($75) VoIP Adapter (see our notes below to see which model is best suited for you).
  • A free Google Voice account.
  • A $12/year Anveo account (Optional: required for E911 service).
  • One Ethernet cable.
  • One RJ11 telephone cable.
  • One corded or cordless telephone.

Before we proceed, let’s highlight the differences between the Obi VoIP gateways and some other relevant tips. All three Obi models will work absolutely fine for our purposes and 95% of the features are available on all three models (Caller ID, support for multiple VoIP providers, etc.)

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What’s the difference between the three Obi VoIP adapters? The principle difference between the Obi100 and the Obi110 is the inclusion of a land line bridge port on the Obi 110. This port allows you to use both the VoIP features and a traditional land line together.

What’s the benefit of such an arrangement? One of the few drawbacks of using a many VoIP service, including Google Voice, is that they do not include traditional emergency number (e.g. 911) support. If retaining traditional access to your local 911 service is critical (or you want to keep a bare bones line for use with a security system) then opting for a the OBi110 or OBi202 is necessary. If you’re comfortable using E911 service (which is simply an adaptation of the traditional 911 service for cellular phone and VoIP technology) we will show you how to set that up later in the tutorial and you don’t need your basic land line. If you haven’t tried to sign up for a basic phone line in awhile, you will likely be shocked by the price—our local teleco provider insisted that $30 a month was as low as they could possibly go for a local only, 911-enabled phone line with no extra amenities.

Finally, the third OBi VoIP adapter, the OBi202, is overkill for most residential situations. The OBi202 supports four VoIP services (the 100 and 101 support up to 2), T.38 fax protocol (allows for IP-to-IP faxing), and includes a simple two-port router with an additional USB port for attaching a Wi-Fi adapter or network storage drive. Unless you need the T.38 fax protocol (and intend to get an additional VoIP provider that supports it) there is little reason to spend the extra money for the OBi202—it’s over powered as a VoIP gateway and underpowered as a router.

Do I have to use a Google Voice account? You do not have to use Google Voice as your VoIP provider. OBi VoIP adapters are not locked to any given service and can be used with multiple services including Anveo, Callcentric, CallWithUs, Inphonex, Sipgate, Vitelity, VoicePulse, VoIP.ms, and VoIPo. In addition you can manually configure many other VoIP providers to work with your OBi device.

We are using Google Voice because it’s absolutely free for North American to North American calls and features dirt-cheap $0.01 per minute international calling.  Should that change in the future, you can easily change your OBi device to use a more economical VoIP provider.

Why do I need this optional Anveo account? Google Voice does not currently support E911 calls. If you are not retaining a bare-bones land line for use with emergency calling services, and wish to keep access to 911, you will need to add in secondary VoIP provider with E911 support. All three of the OBi devices support 2 VoIP providers and Anveo offers a $1-per-month plan which is a perfect match for our basic E911 needs. Once we have finished setting up your OBi device with Google Voice we will show you how to add in E911 support.

Where should I put the OBi device? All of the Obi devices need a connection to your router and a connection to the phone network in your home (if you’re using the device with a single phone, you can simply plug the phone into the device directly). Whether you plug the device in right next to your router, into a network jack elsewhere in the house, or on the other side of a network switch on your network, is largely irrelevant. Place the Obi device in the most convenient location that permits you to patch it into your home data network and home telephone network. In our case the most convenient location was in the basement within easy access of our network router, a phone jack, and a power outlet.

Note: You do not have to plug the Obi device into the point-of-entry for the phone line; you can plug it into any phone jack in your home to connect it to your home phone network.

Setting Up Google Voice and Configuring OBi

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Configuring Google Voice: Before we plug our VoIP data into our OBi device, we need a VoIP provider. Fortunately signing up for Google Voice is dead simple. First head over to voice.google.com to start the process.

If you wish to keep your Google Voice account separate from your primary Google account (e.g. you’re going to be using the Google Voice + OBi setup for an apartment with multiple roommates and you want the number and account access walled off from your main Google account) we suggest creating a brand new Google account for this project. Otherwise, feel free to login using your primary account.

When you login to Google Voice for the first time you will be prompted to accept the terms of service and informed that you will need to verify yourself using a US-based phone number:

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Next you will be prompted to pick either a new Google Voice supplied phone number or to use your mobile phone number. Creating a new Google Voice number is free, porting an existing number into Google incurs a one-time fee of $20. We would prefer to keep our mobile number for our mobile phone and to avoid the $20 fee, so we are creating a new Google Voice number.

Google Voice number selected, you will be prompted to enter a forwarding phone number. You only need to use this number for verifying your US residency (after that you will be able to delete it and simply use your Google assigned number by going to Settings –> Phone in Google Voice), so feel free to use any US-based phone number you can temporarily answer. You will receive a phone call from Google Voice at that number; enter the two digit confirmation code when prompted.

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Once you’ve confirmed your US-based phone number in the previous step, you can then select your new Google Voice number. You can either enter an area, city name, or zip code to search for a local number or enter a word, phrase, or number string (if you want a number with your name in it like 1-555-212-JOHN or the like).

After acquiring your Google Voice number (or successfully porting an older number into the system) you will need to make at least one Google Voice call from within the Google Voice web interface to fully activate the service. Any phone number will do, but if you’re looking for a number you can call without bothering anyone there’s always the old trusty National Institute of Standards and Technology Time-of-Day service line: (303) 499-7111.

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Linking Your OBi device to Google Voice: Now it’s time to set up your OBi device. First, plug your OBi device into your data network and phone network. Once connected to both, plug in the power transformer to boot up the device. Leave the device to boot up and update its firmware; time to go register it with OBi.

Back at your computer visit the OBi web portal and register for an account. Wait for an email from OBi and confirm your account registration. Login at the web portal after you have confirmed your account and click on Add Device in the sidebar.

OBi will prompt you to pick up a telephone handset and dial the registration code they have supplied (e.g. **1 2345). Dial the number. Hang up after the automated response. If you are unable to dial the number you may need to power cycle your OBi device (do not power cycle the device while the LED indicator is blinking orange, as the OBi device is in the middle of updating the firmware).

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After successfully entering the registration code, youwill be prompted to configure your OBi device via the web portal. The OBi number, MAC address, and serial number of the device are prepopulated for you. You will need to name the device (we simply named ours Home to distinguish it from any future OBi devices we might activate at other locations), supply an admin password (for connecting to the OBi device directly over your network), and add a 4 digit PIN for the OBi Auto Attendant (necessary for accessing the more advanced features of the OBi device from outside the local network). Click Save Changes before continuing.

The next step is to link your OBi device with Google Voice. Click on the Google Voice Set-Up icon beneath the items you just configured. OBi will warn you that there is no 911 support for Google Voice (we will be setting up e911 support in a moment, so just click accept).

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In the Google Voice configuration page you will want to name your account, ensure that “Make This the Primary Line to Call Out from” is checked as well as “Google Voicemail Notification”. Add in your local area code to make local number dialing more convenient. Finally, plug in your Google Voice username and password.

Note: If you are using two-factor authentication on your Google account (and we highly recommend you do) you will need to set an application-specific password for your OBi service. To do so visit your Google Accounts dashboard, navigate to Security –> Connected Applications and Sites –> Manage Access and then scroll to down to the Application-specific Passwords section to create a unique password for OBi.

Once you have entered all the information in the Google Voice configuration page within the OBi web portal, click Submit. You will be kicked back to the configuration page for your OBi device. It will take around five minutes for the configuration process between Google Voice and OBi to complete. During this time the status indicator for your Google Voice account will say “Backing Off”, then “Authenticating”, and finally “Connected”. If your status indicator gets stuck at “Backing Off”, double check your password.

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When you have received the “Connected” status confirmation, it’s time to test out the connection. Pick up the telephone handset connected to the OBi device and dial an outgoing number. You could try out the Time-of-Day number again, (303) 499-7111, or dial a friend and gush about how much money you will be saving by never paying a landline phone bill again.

Optional: Configuring OBi for E911 Service

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Although this step is optional in-so-far as you don’t need to complete it for your OBi-to-Google-Voice setup to serve up free phone calls all year long, we highly recommend completing it. While most of us, thankfully, will never need to use 911, adding on E911 service to your VoIP setup is cheap peace of mind.

OBi supports multiple VoIP services with integrated E911 calling but they have made it especially easy to configure Anveo for E911 service. Since Anveo’s ultra-cheap E911-only VoIP add-on plan costs a buck a month, the cheapest we were able to find, we see no reason to go with anyone else.

To set up your auxiliary Anveo line, return to the Device Configuration page within the OBi web portal. In the Configure Voice Service Providers (SP) section click on the blue Anveo E911 Sign-Up box.  On the next page select SP2 Service in the drop-down menu and click Next. Select “I want a new Anveo E911 for my OBi”. Enter the CAPTCHA and then fill out the address form (this is not the billing address, but the physical location of the phone). After confirming the address of the phone you will plug in your billing address and set up a password.

Next select either basic E911 service for $12 a year or E911 with alerts (SMS, phone calls, email, etc.) for $15. Once you have completed the registration and payment process (including clicking the activation link delivered via email) then the Anveo E911 service will be active and automatically configured on your OBi account:

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Finally, you can test your E911 service by dialing 933 on any phone connected to your OBi device. The automated process will confirm that you have E911 access, tell you the address registered in the E911 system for the incoming phone number, and confirm that your phone system can supply outgoing audio to a 911 operator.


At this point your home phone network has been fully converted to a free VoIP system complete with long distance, caller ID, voicemail, and all the other amenities your local phone company would love to charge you for. Even better, the system is completely unlocked and you can easily transition it to a new VoIP provider if in the future Google Voice no longer proves to be the most economical provider around.

Jason Fitzpatrick is warranty-voiding DIYer and all around geek. When he's not documenting mods and hacks he's doing his best to make sure a generation of college students graduate knowing they should put their pants on one leg at a time and go on to greatness, just like Bruce Dickinson. You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 02/12/13

Comments (35)

  1. Scott Munter

    How are you defining broadband internet for this? Is there a minimum bandwidth? And for people who have data caps, how much data can we expect this to burn?

  2. Rollo

    It seems pretty complicated. I skipped my landline years ago and am keeping it simple, just using my cell phone, It’s not that expensive when I only make local calls.
    If I needed to call long distance I would just use Skype or similar

  3. Billi

    I’ve been using Obi110 for the last 2 years+, haven’t paid a home phone/landline bill since.
    Have two GVoice numbers on it – one of which rings one my cell and at home.
    Use it for fax too.
    I take it with me as a SIP Phone on my laptop and send/get my calls while away from home.
    Also use it as a bridge to allow my sister in another state to dial into my box and make long distance
    call to the Jamaica using Google’s low long distance rates.
    Only downtime I’ve had with it was during the storms/hurricanes on the east coast.
    It will be down during power outages or ISP outages. Fortunately for me I’ve not had those (except during the storms).
    I never knew about Anveo though, so I’ll take a look at that. E911 would be good to have.
    Obi is the best VOIP set up I’ve seen or used.
    Highly configurable, has so many features you’ll feel like you have your very own phone company in this little box. Can’t figure out why everybody isn’t using Obi or using some other VOIP for that matter.
    Easy to set up, configure and use. Plus they have a really good forum with tons of ideas, usage guide, tricks and help.

  4. rafael

    My problem is the our local service provider requires us to have a Land line for internet service. In a small rural area we don’t have much choice if we want speed. So there goes that idea.

  5. Doug

    Anyone have any experience with Ooma vs. Obi? Similarities and pros\cons?

  6. Billi

    Rollo, it’s not complicated at all. I stumbled upon Obi whilst surfing for a VOIP service.
    Saw Obi, read some of their documentation on their website and bought the 110 to try it out. I already was using GVoice.
    It took me about 30 minutes from opening the package to making my first call.
    I learned some more about Obi on their forum.
    BTW I just sent another box to Jamaica so that my family there can make and receive call directly to/from me here in the USA. Obi also have their own unique numbers which we can use to dial any Obi box directly as long as they are connected to the internet (my family just got broadband in their location). They don’t even need a VOIP service like Google’s.
    My sister (bridging) and I can use my box to cal their box for free and talk forever. No cost …. FREE.
    And they can be bridged into my box to make calls to any USA or Can phone number using my GVoice service. Cool.
    I say all this to make a point. This all seem complicated but really isn’t. You see I learned to to this without
    a guide from HTG or any other techie site. I just read the documentation on Obi’s site, read a little on their forum and now I’m an “expert” :-)
    Take it from a girl (old girl) whose first tech device (apart from a pc) was a digital camera I got last Christmas from my Grandkids. I had never even had a smartphone – but I’m getting there :-)

  7. Anon

    This is a really helpful article, when I move next summer I’ll be sure to implement this instead of getting a land line.

  8. Dan

    @Scott Munter
    One line of VoIP needs roughly 64kbps I believe, so if you use both lines on your Obi you require 128kbps or ~.125mbps. That isn’t much if your internet at home is 5mbps.

  9. Afkargh

    While I appreciate the need for technology to move forward, I’m not convinced it’s ready for prime time. After Hurricane Sandy ripped through the Northeast last October, I was without power for a few days. My neighbors on VOIP and the cell towers in the region ran out of battery power within hours of the outage. My old fashion POTS line was the only functioning means of communication to the outside world. In time, I’m sure VOIP will hit that level of reliability, but it still needs work.

  10. Mike Hathaway

    I setup callcentrtic on a linksys device a year or two ago. Saves a fortune, we spend between 3 and 5 bucks a month on phone calls and service (E911 is $1.50 of that) setup was difficult but as a cisco VOIP tech I was able to get it done. The Obi is so much easier to setup. I would easily recommend this for other family members and friends wanting to save money. I had spent years trying to keep the landline phone costs down. Dealing with the cheapest long distance plan is $5.00 there is a $2.95 fee per month to not have a long distance plan etc… I could ditch the phone and live with the straight talk cell phone plans but I like having a normal phone in the house hooked into 911.

  11. RandyN

    Well done article. Been using Obi for over a year and it’s been working great and has already saved me over $450. I also didn’t know about Anveo and am going to add it to my setup.

    The reason it looks complicated, and in actuality doesn’t take that long to setup, is because this article is so thorough and walks you through every step.

  12. tony

    Afkargh The endgame is savings. You can drop your POTS line to local plan with pay per call long distance just to have it for those occasions. When all is said and done, you’d have the security of the landline you want and the cost savings of the VOIP line.

  13. Afkargh

    That makes sense Tony. I actually am down to a local only POTS line with just a call waiting option. For the instances I would need to make a long distance call, I just use my mobile. I like VOIP for non-essential communication, but it needs to be as tested and true as POTS for it to pay off.

  14. Katz

    Hi Jason. Sorry my English, but what is the difference between OBI100 and SPA1001 Lynksys?
    Great job :-)

  15. Smug Lee

    I have 2 VoIP devices and both work great! I bought them both at my local Walmart too. First is a NetTalk device and second is (dare I say it) a Magic Jack Plus device. Neither device requires a running computer and both are dead simple to hook up. No software to deal with either. About the hardest part was registering online. And when you consider the $20 a year for service (per device) from now till dooms day, I’m not likely going to be switching back. (Although I do plan on dropping Magic Jack due to their abhorrent customer service and a lack of anywhere to call – they’re a phone company for cripes sake with live reps available for help but without phones!)

    Now, all I have at home is strictly Internet service which is one of Comcast’s “economy” packages. And like all their internet plans, mine is ‘capped’ at 250GB a month which I find nearly impossible to blow through when you also consider the fact that I also get most of my entertainment via the internet too. (Can anyone say Netflix, Hulu or even YouTube?) Best of all, I still have cable TV! Just the very basic of all basic cable line ups but it’s the same stuff that I might get over the air with an antenna just over cable – and all in high def too! And I get it all for just about $60 a month!!! THAT’S SOME MAJOR REASON RIGHT THERE TO CONSIDER VOIP! Because all anyone really needs at home is a high speed internet connection.

    The one thing that does scare me a little is when more people realize just how much they are wasting on their current services. When more people switch to something like what I did you can expect the prices to go up to help offset the money that’s no longer coming in. But hey! As long as there are dummies buying Microsoft Office or paying Adobe for junk like Creative Suite, or even more people buying Apple junk, I don’t think there’s any shortage of even more dummies not switching to VoIP. After all, the world is full of fools and like the man once said, “A fool and his money are soon parted.”

    Oh! And if you’re concerned about 911 services, don’t be. Getting your info updated with the 911 services is part of the registration process. (FYI, you can also do this yourself if you happen to have a cell phone too – hint hint – club upside the head, HINT!)

  16. Brie

    Hahaha what a coincidence! I just got my Obi100 from Newegg delivered today, I was up and running in a half an hour. It would have been sooner but when registering your Google Voice account you must use your Gmail account and wait for a Verification Email from Obitalk, this took about 20+ to hit my Inbox after that it was just following the prompts and I was done. The call is so clear. (I hate saying this but its true) “Why did I wait so long?” I have heard of Obi+Google Voice and read many reviews which nearly all fantastic. Im very happy I got it.

  17. Jeff Sadowski

    I just bought MajicJack but this looks interesting. MajicJack is about $30 a year so a little more than twice as much but is easier to setup and e911 was easily setup. I could return the MajicJack and try this but what are the downsides?

    Currently I use google voice with my sprint cell phone. I have google voice ring my MajicJack at the same time and have the MajicJack wait a full minute before it goes to voicemail so that it will go to my google voice voicemail if I don’t pick up. This allows my wife to know if someone is directly calling the MajicJack as it rings more than 20 seconds.

    I guess with this method I could possibly use the same google voice account I do with sprint? What happens if my wife is calling from the home phone (through this method) and I make a call at the same time?

    If I setup a separate google voice account and set my first google voice to point at the second what would happen if my wife is on the phone (through this method)? Would I be able to make sure that my sprint’s google voice gets the voicemails like I do with the MajicJack?

  18. bbotzong

    I purchased a MagicJack for use while travelling and it occured to me I could try it at home. My house connection box was located next to my internet router, so I plugged in MagicJack and ran the feed into the house line feed. I’ve been testing it for four months with no problems whatsoever. The E911 is included with the monthly fee. Caller ID, voice mail etc is included in the price. Cost is about $70 for the “box” and then about $70 for 5 years of service. I would highly recommend it as an alternative.

  19. TheFu

    Great article! I switched to VoIP around 2002 and never looked back, though service has been hit-or miss until about 3 yrs ago for us. You can get a VoIP ATA device, pay a single SIP service provider and connection a phone to that ATA, so this doesn’t need to be as complicated as the article suggest. No need to connect skype or g-voice or E911 … that should be provided by the SIP service provider. It is mandatory in the USA.

    #1 – be certain that your broadband connection is stable. That means it doesn’t go down all the time. Most people don’t know how unstable their broadband connections really are – even on the same provider as others who have fantastic, stable, service. If your cable or DSL is dropping or the available bandwidth varies wildly, you will hate voip.

    #2 – I think voip over cell data, satellite or any wireless ISP is a loosing effort. Voip packets are extremely sensitive to network latency. Clear probably isn’t a good choice for VoIP either due to latency.

    #3 – Get a multi-handset wireless phone system. Something that only needs 1 plug into the phone wiring. The SIP ATA (Obi or whatever you choose) probably supports 1 or 2 regular phone connections. If your power goes out, be certain to put everything on a UPS.

    #4 Have a backup phone plan. A cell phone that works from your home really is needed for when something doesn’t work. Last week, my ISP was offline for over an hour due to area storms. Not having phone service during that time … even to report a power or ISP outage is not a good idea.

    In the early days, the services were less than stellar, so I hopped through about 5 of them. Even used Comcast VoIP for a year paying through the nose and setup a bridge between Skype and a PBX with Skype-IN/OUT numbers for about 6 months before I found VoIP.ms. For about $5/month, I get free inbound calls. I’ve connected it to a PBX (Asterisk or FreeSwitch) before to tinker for about a year, but switched back to a $25 ATA Handytone device purchased in 2004-ish. There are less expensive answers, just like there are much more expensive answers. When it comes to phone service, you don’t miss it until it isn’t available or works poorly. Because my job was being on conference calls 6+ hrs a day, using a cell phone simply was not an option and having different solutions that didn’t work with the multitude of conference bridges being used around the world was not an option either. DTMF tones seem to be hard for many of the cheaper providers. This matters if you need to call a bank or insurance company — or into enterprise conference bridges.

    I have friends that use an Obi. When we talk, there is a beep every minute or so that he can’t trace down. I can hear the beep too, so it is on the line. Besides that, it seems fine. I think they get billed for E911 after buying a “lifetime” Obi device.
    Another friend bought a “magic jack” knowing that the system is a computer behavior tracking device. When he used the MJ, it ran on a dedicated PC that was used for absolutely nothing else. That pc sat in a corner, connected to a different network (100% firewalled off subnet) than all his other systems so there wasn’t any behavior to be tracked besides making phone calls. Seems that being simple to use was the most important part.

    After all the other screwing around with different voip providers, I’m very happy with VoIP.ms and just pre-paid for another year ($60). The calls are crystal clear – much higher quality than any RBOC (BTW, I worked in telecom for large RBOC providers).

    By using a pure SIP implementation, that opens all sorts of hardware and software options up or you can keep it simple with a $25 ATA device that your phone system plugs into. When on travel, I’ll disconnect the ATA at home and use a softphone on android or a laptop. My phone is wherever I am, provided the SIP traffic is not blocked by the internet provider (hotel/company) – which does happen 90% of the time.

    Faxing. The T.38 protocol is not always implemented properly in either your hardware or the SIP provider. If you have a small business, fax may still be very important, thought I haven’t needed to use it in a few years. Most places will accept a scanned PDF now. Be certain to email any “sensitive documents” encrypted somehow. Often a password protected ZIP is the easiest solution.

    #next-to-last – many (most?) home security systems don’t work with VoIP. That can lead to higher home insurance rates and slightly less piece of mind unless you spring for the up-sell version that used cell connections.

    #lastly – some POTS telephone providers have decided to allow 911 calls from “disconnected” locations (public relations nightmare), so you might not want to reuse the house wiring for your SIP connection to regular phones. Connect a dumb phone from 1980s to the house wiring for 911 calling should your ISP be offline during a true emergency. Set this up in advance. When you pick up the phone on these lines, there is a recording that only 911 calls can be made. YMMV depending on the POTS provider in your area. OTOH, if you or your family have emergencies monthly or multiple times a year (asthma, etc.) – keeping that old POTS line makes perfect sense. Don’t risk the lives of you or your family over $500/yr for POTS phone service.

    Try voip for a few months, see if it works for you. The savings can be huge compared to traditional phone service. It really does take a few months to find all the parts that don’t work for your needs. Overall, people reading this article will probably be happy enough with the solution. Go for it!

  20. A55A551N 11B3P

    BTW, you do not need to pay anything for 911 service. During our transition from DSL to cable and VoIP, an AT&T rep told me that a landline will call two numbers when the household doesn’t have service- 911 and AT&T’s support number.

  21. Chuck, Houston

    We were told we have to have a landline because our alarm system will dial out in the event of a break-in. Will one of these systems be able to handle an alarm?

  22. A55A551N 11B3P

    We switched to Ooma from AT&T last year and haven’t had any regrets. Well, we do have one- we went from AT&T DSL to ComCast cable internet. While the speeds and service of Comcast haven’t been as bad as I was expecting, their billing department is totally screwed up. In the first 6 months of service, I was ‘late’ 5 times! I had to go to the bank to retrieve the payments (I paid the bills online through my bank), and then wait in line for more than an hour each time, then spend 30 minutes sorting things out with the CR, only to see the same shit happen the following month! I ended up writing to the big wig at CC to clear things up and FINALLY haven’t had an issue since.

    Now about Ooma…we’ve been a little hesitant switching over to VoIP because of bad experiences we had with Vonage in its early days. However, other than an expensive initial outlay ($199 for the device and $119 prepaid Premier service for 1 year), we can happily report that it’s rock-solid!

    The biggest gripe we have is that you have to wait for the other party to stop talking before you can talk and have them hear you- think of it as a walkie-talkie or CB radio. For casual conversations it’s not bad, but when it’s business or we expect that the conversation will have a lot of interrupts, we use our cellphones. Voice clarity is crystal-clear…you and the other party wouldn’t know you were using VoIP.

    We still have to pay state sales tax (TN- about $4.23/month), but that’s far better than the $55 we were paying to AT&T. If one figures the cost of the Ooma device (plus 9.75% tax), the Premier service for 1 year, and 12 months of taxes, versus 12 months of AT&T, we recoup all of that in 7 months. So in essence, we’re saving about $272 in the first year, and $490/year afterwards (12 months of AT&T @ $55/month – (12 months of taxes + renewal of Premier)).

    BTW, Ooma does offer a free service, but some features aren’t available…you’ll have to look it up on their site.

    Another thing we love about the service is that if we miss any calls, the service will forward all voicemails to our cellphones, our emails, and on the device itself! It’s also extremely easy to block telemarketers using the online account service, and finally, we have E911 as well.

    As for setting it up, all you have to do is plug the damn thing in…none of the BS or hassle as the Obi in this article.

    And finally, I don’t have any stake in Ooma and I don’t work for them. This is just the opinion and observation of someone whose used the system for nearly a year now.

  23. RonV

    I started with VoIP over 5 years ago with Packet8 and dropped my land line. When they started to get into fees and charges I decided to by VoIP wholesale and setup my own Asterisk PBX which cost 300 for the PC and 150 for the telephone adapter for analogue phones.

    I was paying less that 1 cent per minute wholesale and no state or federal fees. When my wholesaler started raising rates based on call destination, adding state fees, I hacked the SIP credentials from a MagicJack and dropped the wholesaler. MagicJack caught on and blocked the hacks for SIP with Asterisk. I had a backup VoIP vendor that worked with Asterisk in case MagicJack stopped working but the cost would be over $35 a month if they were my primary thus defeating the purpose of having unlimited calling for a very low annual rate from MagicJack. The PBX really did pay for itself for the 3 years I had it running if you look at it from the cost of a landline or Vonage monthly fees.

    So 18 months ago I turned off my PBX and ported my phone number to Ooma. I only do the basic service and it was worth of $100 dollar investment in their platform. Recently our monthly fees went from 3 dollars a month to 6 due to the state demanding more for 911 services (what do they really do with all that 911 money?). I haven’t looked back since going with the Ooma.

  24. MdKnightR

    I ditched my landline almost 10 years ago. If you have need of a cell phone, but you’re still paying for a landline, it’s just wasted money IMHO.

  25. Dano

    1996 called (on a landline) they want their landlines back.

  26. Mike

    Great write-up, thanks! I currently have VoIP through my IP. I’m considering your recommendations and may, indeed, drop my current service and save some bucks! Glad I saw this.

  27. John Fowles

    That all sounds fiendishly complicated to me,I was never impressed by Skype as it requires both the caller and receiver to have their computers on plus use the puter’s speakers and mike Far far simpler IMHO is the excellent reliable and cheap service provided by Rebtel.com for just 1 cent a minute to the UK from the US I can dial a free (for me) local access number in an area code in my state New Jersey and it then automatically rings UK and Australian numbers direct both ends using regular telephone sets,Moreover if I get a call from the UK ,my regulsar Caller ID shows the local access phone number (which is unique for each contact I have set up so I lknow who is calling whereas regular landline calls fromn the UK are not identified.Wonderfully essy to set up and use.

  28. David

    Is this set-up applicable to Canadian residents?

  29. cmaglaughlin

    Google says Google Voice is void after 2013. It’s been a Godsend for years. Maybe there will be a nominal charge after the n/c expires. I’d like to ditch the landline, but need it to connect to a most ingenious device called “Caller ID with call block.” I got one on eBay(or google search it). It screens every call. Only the numbers I have programmed into it get to ring my phone. Every other number is left as a caller ID, that I can choose to get back to, or completely ignore.No telemarketing, no creditors, no wrong numbers, nobody gets to ring my chime unless they are in there. Way under a $100. Terrific invention. The inventor is a Japanese-American and he has a website, and is very helpful if you have any programming questions! Takes calls at home! Guess I’ll wait until Google sets everything straight later this year.

  30. deno

    I think the best service available out there is NetTalk , its fantastic. Not as complicated as this, you get unlimited intl calling for about 14 bucks a month to 60 countries and I mean it. You can get the nettalk VOIP adapter at any retail store PCR was cheapest at $57. You register online and select your own phone number based on your area code to use for domestic and intl calling , only drawback is there is no refund for thier service. But its worth the money. I have local and intl calling for almost 2 years.
    No pins involved in dialing int’l just 011- country code-local phone number works with landlines and cellphones
    The VOIP adapter connects to your home router using RJ45 the other one to the phone you want to use.

    Very effective and money saver for sure. http://www.nettalk.com

    I am not advertising for nettalk but I just recommed thier service . They are the people to go to.

    Regards
    Deno

  31. Coz

    Is this the same as Magic Jack?

  32. Doug2

    I’ve been using VOIP for almost 3 years and have been completely happy with it. No land line anymore. Options that were once add-ons are now free to low-cost. As long as commercial products are the mainstay of this article, I’ll pass on my experience with ooma. When I bought the hardware 3 years ago, there was no monthly charge for service or regulatory taxes/fees. The taxes/fees part has changed, but it’s still a small amount per month. I have 2 friends that use the basic ooma service, which is free except for taxes, and they are happy to have free caller-ID, long distance calling and have the system hooked into their house wiring so it appears as a normal landline to the house.
    After a few months of free service, we opted for the upgrade service @ $10/mo. For that cost, we get a free second phone number (we don’t pass out our primary number when we call someone). We have the option of creating a blocked caller list. We setup ours so blocked calls go directly to voice mail. Ditto for those that don’t display their caller ID. We also have the capability to either roll our calls to our cell phone when the internet connection is down, as we do during vacation, or we could have it ring both numbers. The upgraded service also allows call monitoring while a message is being left on the answering machine function.
    In short, VOIP with ooma has given us control over our phone. Few to no solicitors, we only answer calls we recognize, and we are never out of range to someone calling our home phone number.
    We will never go back.

  33. bbotzong

    Never hear that about MagicJack collecting data. Mine is a stand-alone product… plugs into the router, the main phone feed and into the power supply. I’ll Google it and see what I can find.

  34. Cosmos

    I am very impressed with this well written article, job well done Jason Fitzpatrick. I also enjoyed all the people’s comments because i believe everyone has something to bring to the table, it is deffenetely time to save money and it’s well over due, i’m tired of paying all these unexeptable ridiculous prices in which all these company’s have been ripping people off for YEARS.
    I would of done it sooner but I live with my family/parents and brother which he is a very techi guy who needs the best if everything, intenet,phone,cell,computers all top notch.
    Well i am going to try thus Obi out and hop i can convince my brother to lower some bills in which we pay tons of. We have verizon $215-peco-$300-400 and these are the small bills, anyway between Obi,OOma,straight talk,majicjack what do you choose i have an idea but mybe with some help with my friends here can point me to the right direction.
    As for (THEFU) the telecom guy that worked for a large RBOC providers, you defenetely have some tricks under you sleave so share as much as you can for all these great folks.
    I can’t wait to start this hopefully my brother will agree to get rid of some of these high paying bills we’ve been paying.
    Well why do i still live with my parents, well I’m taking care of my pop’s after he had heart surgery 13 years ago at hannaman hospital in philly they screwed my dad up during surgery and as a result presented my family and I with a totaly diabled person after suffering a major heart attack, doesn’t talk or walk, sorry guys i guess i was venting out.
    Amyway i hope this works out as good as some that had great experiences with.
    Love to hear more if anyone else has any other different experience..Thank you!

  35. F. D. Bryant III

    I’m thinking of doing this but I’d rather see the really geeky solution of setting an Asterisk Server+Google Voice to your Android Phone. If you want to push into nerdy terrority the tutorial will show how do it on a DD-WRT enabled router. Please, pretty please?

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