I did it! I can now make long-distance phone calls to anyone in the US and Canada. Absolutely free! And I’m using a telephone to do it.
Back in August I wrote about my new venture in pursuing free telephone service, thanks to the suggestion of a Facebook friend I’ve known since college (I won’t say how long ago). I was already aware of how to make and receive free phone calls using Google Voice, but I had to place calls from my computer.
Now there’s a way to make a Google Voice call using a telephone instead of your computer—and that’s what I’m writing about today (and introduced in part 1). Here’s information about what you need and what you need to do as well as an update on what I’ve done so far on my journey to attain phone independence.
Setting yourself up for free phone service is simple and requires minimal cost that will pay for itself and save you major bucks down the road. (If you ever get lost along the way, please comment to this post, and I’ll get back to you.) This page also gives a summary of what I’m going to explain.
What Do I Need?
- A free Google Voice account. This step mainly entails setting up a free Gmail e-mail account and then adding Google Voice to it. Google Voice gives you a free phone number, and you can send and receive free local and long-distance calls—even send text messages—completely free using your computer (via Internet access). Read more about it here: http://www.google.com/googlevoice/about.html. If you don’t want to go full throttle yet, just try out Google Voice for a while. Make and receive long-distance calls using your computer and enjoy the free voice mail service. I guarantee you’ll be impressed. Here’s a tutorial on how to set up a Google Voice account.
- Broadband Internet service (DSL or cable) with an Internet wireless router in your home. You must possess the actual router for this to work. I pay about $40 per month for DSL through AT&T.
- The Obi100 or Obi110 telephone adapter. The adapter costs $40 or $50 at Amazon.com, respectively, depending on which device you choose. I chose the Obi110 because I still have a regular landline (I will explain; read on to see how the Obi110 works). An Obi100 is preferable if you do not have a landline.
- Cordless telephone with several handsets, which communicate via a centralized base. I chose the Vtech cordless phone with two handsets. You can get three or four handsets if you want. This is one of Amazon’s top-selling cordless phones, and it’s a great value for your buck. What I recommend will not work with multiple phone jacks in your house. Find the phone jack that is closest to your Internet router and plan on using that jack for “mission control.”
- Free account at ObiTalk. Once your Google Voice is set up, you can just sign in to ObiTalk using your Google account. This free ObiTalk account will bridge your Obi device with your Google Voice account. Here’s a simple tutorial if you’re not sure how to do this.
How Does It Work?
Here’s what I did. Once my Obi110 arrived in the mail (the same guidelines work for the Obi100), I took the following steps after plugging it in:
- Connected my Obi110 to my Internet wireless router using an Ethernet cable. One end of an Ethernet cable goes into the Ethernet connection on the router, and the other end of the Ethernet cable goes into “Internet” connection on the back of the Obi110 (I can help here if you get stuck along the way. Just e-mail me). I simply followed the setup guide that came with my device. It led me through the process. If you get stuck, this YouTube video will help.
- Connected my Vtech cordless phone base to the Obi110 (phone line from phone to “Phone” connection on back of Obi110). I just made sure to plug into the right port.
- Logged in to ObiTalk and followed the directions here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=5LTmWqP706E. Here’s also a simple tutorial. During setup, tell ObiTalk you want to use your Obi device for outgoing calls.
- Once ObiTalk had identified my device and successfully connected it to my Google Voice account, I was ready to make and receive phone calls using my Google Voice number.
- I tested my new phone service (both sent calls and received them). It worked like a charm. I can now make and receive calls through my Internet router using Google Voice.
For Those Who Use a Landline
Why the Obi110? The cheaper Obi100 will do what I just described but is intended more for those who just want to use their Google Voice phone number to receive and send calls using a connected phone. If you have a landline and want to keep it for a while, the Obi110 is the device to use for $10 more. Here’s why.
When you connect the Obi110 to a phone jack (which you use for landline service) and then connect your phone to the Obi110, the Obi110 will “bridge” two services. You will now receive all incoming calls to your regular landline phone number but send all outgoing calls using your Google Voice number. So essentially you can now make and receive all calls, whether local or long distance, for free using two phone numbers.
I receive all calls to my AT&T phone number, just like I always have. I make all calls using my Google Voice number.
Of course, the ultimate goal is to do all this using one phone number. I’m still currently paying AT&T (too much money, by the way) for my phone service, so I haven’t yet finished my journey to phone independence. But I’ve taken several important steps along the way.
The next step is to “port” or transfer my landline phone number to Google Voice and cut my phone service with AT&T. Those are two very big steps.
I will address the next and final steps in my journey to phone independence in future posts. I hope this is helpful. If you have any questions, feel free to shoot them my way. So far I’m loving placing calls to anyone in the US and Canada, knowing I’m not paying a red cent for them.
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