I’ve been using this for a little over a year now. For years I’ve used Vonage to escape the grip of AT&T for our landline phone service – then Vonage kept upping their price. I think we paid $15/mo initially, then it slowly began creeping up over the years until it was over $30/month. We hardly ever use our home phone except to receive calls from school, and anyone else that doesn’t have our cell phone numbers. I thought, why are we keeping Vonage?
Then one day I found this, the Obi100. It’s a voice-over-IP (VoiP) adapter that lets you plug your home phone into the internet and by using a phone number assigned by Google Voice, what you get is a free phone line. I’ve been using one for over a year and I can honestly say I haven’t had any problems, it’s been trouble-free ever since Day 1.
You can even add another device if you create a new Gmail account (you’re afforded 1 number per Gmail address) for a second line. And at the time I signed up for GV in October 2012, I could not transfer my existing number. I had to choose from a list of available numbers in my area code.
The only drawback on this setup is that you do not have 911 access. For me that wasn’t a big deal because I can use my cellphone for that, or my cellular-connected alarm system. But if your only method of dialing 911 is by landline, you might not want to use this device. In fact, you shouldn’t.
One other minor inconvenience – because Google Voice does not subscribe to CNAM, the National Caller Name Service, you will not receive the callers name on your Caller ID. You will see the incoming phone number, but that’s it. It will also fail to work in the event of a power outage unless your cable/dsl modem and Obi100 are on an uninterruptible power supply (battery backup – which you should have one anyway!).
Nowadays with internet service everywhere being pretty high bandwidth this shouldn’t be a problem: if you have a low bandwidth internet connection, the voice quality may suffer so be forewarned. I use Comcast Business Class and the quality is on par with regular phone service. May be a little better, but I haven’t paid THAT close attention. :) But you should be fine with service of 3 or 4MBps (DSL) or better.
They say you cannot fax on this device since it lacks the appropriate protocol for use over the internet, but I have sent and received faxes using an HP LaserJet 200 multifunction printer without a problem but, again, if you’re buying one of these to add a free fax line to your office, be prepared just in case it doesn’t work or works intermittently. Of course you may luck out and it works 100%!
For a home landline I’d otherwise not have due to the convenience of cellular, it’s a convenience, and it also serves as a good (i.e.: FREE) phone line for teenagers.
If you’re still interested, you can get yours here: OBi100 VoIP Telephone Adapter and Voice Service Bridge
Images from Amazon.com