Tag Archives: VOIP

First Impressions: ObiHai 100

I received the ObiHai 100 earlier today, and after dusting off my Gigaset A510, I have a home phone. The reason for this is I wanted a phone that would remain home without costing a lot of money. Even with T-Mobile’s plans with a third line costing $10, it will still be a significant additional cost, and using a phone that has been less reliable as the days rolled on.

So, why did I want this device. It is one of the few devices that has direct support with Google Voice. This will mean that I will be able to make calls using GTalk, and likewise – receive calls. This (as of 2013) will be treated as free if I am calling US, or Canada as well as +883. This allows a phone to remain home, and allows a single phone number to display when making calls.

Continue reading First Impressions: ObiHai 100

Why I’m Getting an ObiHai?

ObiHai is a device manufacturer that has three ATA (Analog Telephone Adapters), and a softphone that supports Android and iOS. The devices supports GTalk, and/or SIP accounts. The 100, and 101 supports 2 accounts, but the 101 allows for PSTN switching which is good if you have the old fashion phone system as well. The 202 supports 4 SIP accounts, and while I would have wanted the 202, this was not really in my budget which I would have had to pay an extra $30.

I bought the ObiHai 100 from Amazon and signed up with the 30 day trial with Amazon Prime. Since I don’t usually have a lot of money, I don’t see me going on shopping sprees. However, I will have to look at the other benefits of Amazon Prime to see if it will be worth the $80 per year. Now, I am on the new plan with T-Mobile which offers unlimited calling, so one might ask – why would I want a house phone? There are a few reasons for this.

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2012 Predictions

So, the end of 2011 is almost here, and 2012 will soon be here. So, what do I think will happen in 2012? This is my predictions for 2012, and some will be ridiculous, but others may make sense. I will also divide my predictions into groups.

Pittsburgh Local

Port Authority to try to stay in the black will do things to upset many people. Bus fare will go up, and service will go down. In addition, the fare system will be streamlined to make it easier. All standard bus routes will be in 1 fare price rather than possibly two. This will increase the base fare to $2.75 (mid point between the two zone prices), and will keep transfers at $1 for a 3 hour period. Services will also drop. Bus routes now not offering Sunday/Holiday service will also loose Saturday service. Express, Rapid Buses, and Subways will have a 75¢ surcharge. In addition, there will be the use of a magnetic card/cash combination. The card will replace bus passes, and will eliminate transfers requiring the rider to use the card if they will want to have transfers. A card will be keyed to a particular person, and therefore provide for half fare transit for disabled which will also require a photo on the card.

Apple

Apple will release the iPhone 5. It will have a new shape, but I don’t see the screen going above 4”. Even with the license spectrum that T-Mobile has with AT&T, I don’t see it coming to T-Mobile, unless Apple produces an iPhone supporting all of the HSPA+ bands. Unless Sprint abandons WiMax (therefore pissing off current 4G phone owners), or Light Square comes in as a White Label LTE provider, Apple will not go to 4G. They will still stay with a 64GB max capacity.

Apple will release a Macbook Air 15” model, and drop prices on the other two models. I could see the 11” going to $800. The 11” will still lack a SD card reader – however the 13, and 15 inch models will have one. The Mac Book Pro will be dropped, and the iMacs will get a refresh. I can also see another virus hitting Apple Mac OS lines.

The iPod Shuffle – dropped. The iPod Nano – price reduced, and runs a minimal version of iOS. Don’t expect a robust app store compatibility. iPod Touch will be the flag ship, and the Classic will be changed to support SSD rather than a mechanical hard drive. This will drop prices in SSDs and make it more attractive to the end users. I could see SSD prices hitting $1/GB because of this.

Apple will release a television. This television will have integrated access to the iTunes Store, will have a cable card adapter and support for 4 simultaneous channels. It will have a camera for FaceTime, PiP, and a power button. The power button will be out of sight, and will rely on an iOS device as a remote control. Remote control will take the form of wifi, and LAN access with UID authentication for controlling individual TVs. They will come in 36”, 40” and 50” models, and will cost 75% more than a lower high end TV. It will be pretty, but will not sell.

Google

Google will continue to offer free GTalk calling services, and I could see them considering to going into SIP, however this may not seem to be likely. I will like to hope that they would have done something with the 2 year Gizmo Acquisition and at least offer +883 support. I could also see Google offering better URLs for their Google Plus Service, and with the increasing adoption of Android devices, this service will increase by default. I don’t see many people using the service though. Android 4.0 will be a success, but only for the devices that have it. Manufacturers and carriers will continue to drag their feet on updates, and one my only expect an upgrade to 1 platform even if there can be support. So all phone originally with 2.2 will not get 4.0.

In the end, Google will continue to have dominance, but will start to stagnant. Google will also most likely sell the Motorola acquisition they possessed but of course keep the patents to use to protect Android. As for the Android OS, it will start to off branch into other areas. It will be reasonable to see the OS running cars, homes, and little tiny Androids. Non Approved devices will still not get the Market, or other Google Integrated Services instead – companies will continue to offer their own store with paranoids like me not opting to use them. Instead, people will get the Amazon App Store – therefore will be a serious competitor to Google.

Internet

A major company will acquire its own TLD (example IBM acquires .ibm). GoDaddy will suffer in 2012 as many small consumers who knew of their support for SOPA will alienate consumers, and they will change close to the expiration dates. TelNIC will continue to not have a widespread adoption and will only be used by people who want a contact page, or knows the full potential.

There will be another major security issue that happens on the Internet. In addition, a US infrastructure system will be targeted via the Internet. I also see something coming into public light that accuses the United States having committed a cyber attack on an unfriendly country.

Verizon will make a deal with Comcast. They will take Comcast’s wireless spectrum, and offer the network to allow Comcast to offer a “Quad” Play package – adding mobile into their deals. However, Verizon will stagnant on expanding their FiOS markets, and eventually stop taking customers. Instead, they will recommend Comcast. Comcast’s prices will rise. Ala’ Cart Television will still be a consumer’s dream.

Netflix will face a serious competitor either in Amazon, or Apple. They will not offer DVD rentals, but offer streaming services for less than Netflix.

Microsoft

Windows 8 will integrate better with the gaming and mobile platform. The design will cater to those using those systems, and newbies, but will isolate the long time Windows 95+ users who have been familiar with the Start Menu and task bar. Microsoft will unify their OSes, and line ups. One might see Windows Game, Windows Mobile, Windows Home, and Windows Professional with the version starting at 8 for everything. Game will be the XBox platform on a new XBox system.

Technology

The rise of prices in mechanical hard drives will stagnant in the second quarter. About this time, I could see prices of SSDs dropping. They will be higher than the price of mechanical hard drives, but at $1 per GB which is what I will assume the price to be eventually will drop the prices to where it will be reasonable for most people. Thin notebooks will start having SSDs as an option. End of the year, I will suspect a low end PC to have a 120GB SSD (PC less than $500).

Tablets will take a center stage, and will try to replace PCs. In some people who are just using it to consume media, this will become an option. For people that create content, the tablet will serve secondary. Smart phones will rise with the major players being Android, and iOS. Windows Phone will stagnant at 15-20%, and RIM will fall to 10%. If they don’t have a game changing lineup of phones, they will declare bankruptcy or seek a buyer.

SIP will start to gain more attraction for people needing or wanting a home phone. One might even see a consumer grade cordless telephone that will connect into both an RJ11 and RJ45 jack. This will hit brick and mortar stores, and will carry an attraction niche such as cheap phone service. One company once keeping their SIP services behind walls (such as Vonage, or NetTalk) will open it up allowing people to not have to buy their router.

Wireless

Republic Wireless will go out of BETA and will have better integration with Google Voice. This might actually help convince Google Voice to accept +883 adoption. T-Mobile will declare bankruptcy, and Deutsche Telekom will simply just abandon them. Without the sufficient subscriber base, and the bankruptcy news, they will start to bleed customers. This will drive higher prices of current cellular plans. VMNOs such as Cricket, or Virgin Mobile will reap the benefits of T-Mobile’s wounds.

World – America

Canada will loose RIM to a bankruptcy, or company buyout as their market share in the mobile space drops below 10%. The United States will re-elect Barack Obama unless the majority of the population will blame him for another hit in the financial market. If this Ron Paul or Mitt Romney will be elected. Housing and Urban Development which provides financial assistance to low income families will offer a program for long term recipients to provide a similar home/condo to where they will provide for a 10 year assistance payment on a mortgage. This will only apply to recipients of 10+ years with no landlord complaints of non-payments.

No changes in other parts of America with the exception of Mexico. I could see a very public assassination of a government figure by the cartels. I also see a mass murder spilling over on the US side of the border. This will involve the US to go into Mexico on the blessing of the Mexican Government to either use Special Ops forces, or drones to strike cartel gangs.

World – Asia

Having seen that Capitalism has “failed”, the youth will seek to try to bring Communism back to Russia for hopes of jobs, and meeting the basic needs. Russian/US relations will falter, but there will not be a cold war attitude. The nuclear armistice will still allow the US to help Russia get find and dismantle their nuclear arsenal as agreed with.

Having lost their long time great leader, North Korea’s successor will flex its muscles by “test” launching flag ship nuclear ready ICBMs. There will also be rumors that South Korea will be invaded by North Korea. China will have to step in to try to make things better at least in regards to North Korea.

World – Middle East

Iraq since our departure in late 2011 will fall into a Civil War, and there will be concerns of Iraq splitting into two or even 3 separate countries. However, Iraq will remain 1 country. Talks between Palestine and Israel will be in the final stages, but Hamas must not be allowed in power. In addition, a successful cease fire will have to take place with both sides. Country lines will be mostly Israeli based, but some adjustments from there.

Confirmation that Iran has a nuclear weapons program will become apparent. The United States will still have a strong presence in Afghanistan, however there will be considerations of pulling out. Pakistan will tighten permissions to use their border in efforts to get more financial aide.

Replacing Home Phone with SIP

There comes a time when people might be frustrated with high prices, or limited calling. I know a couple of people who can access a wifi network, but has no ability to get a POTS line installed. So, what is available. Well, there are two types of people I will be referring too. The first are US callers, and the second are international callers. Each of these options, I will make recommendations in what I will see as the best option. In the case of international users, check with your local laws to make sure that SIP/VOIP is not banned. In addition, keep in mind you may still have to keep your current phone services as not every country allows DIDs (telephone numbers). In example if you live in Morocco, you will not be able to get a DID, and therefore may have to keep your current service.

US Users

The US has some of the most options, and choices available. My personal preference will be an unused Android phone, however there are a number of options available. You will want a phone number that is in the US, and this could range in prices depending on the provider.In addition, you could use a couple of other smart phone OSes, and even old fashion phones with ATAs. My personal recommendation will be a 2 provider option. This could be needed if you want to make it easier for any international friends using many SIP services to reach you easy.

First, I will not recommend Vonage, nor Packet 8. The reason of why is these providers will force you into a contract, and lock your ATA that you should technically own to work with their service only. In addition, you could never use your credentials to log into your own ATA which means that you have to use their device. In addition, I will say no to Magic Jack. The reason of why is their device requires that you use a Windows PC, and install special software on your computer to use their ATA. This to me is too many conditions. Nettalk will work with a router, but I actually seen that their +883 calling rates are $5.50 per minute. This is ridiculous, and simply put, just wrong. I will get into why later.

Now, as for service – you would want something that is better priced than POTS/Land line services. The average price for unlimited calling to the US, and all of the features you will expect is about $25/month. I am hoping to help you with that cost. This will of course depend on what you will be using. The options are Android, ATA, and iOS. There are other platforms, but one could go into too much detail with how to set everything up, and what to do next. I will find that these options are usually going to be the most effective. The choice service is actually going to be Google Voice which will use Google Talk to make and receive calls. You would want a Google Voice line for an actual phone number. You will need a separate phone number for forwarding, and that phone number will need to be verified. I will recommned your cellular number. You can decide to not have people ring the number by unchecking it. You would want to also get a +883 number, but Google Voice does not provide this.

Once you have a Google Voice account set up, you would want to purchase the Obihai 110. This will be an ATA that will connect to your router which is what an ATA should do. You will plug your phone into the ATA which will then require you to set up the ATA to work with Google Voice. Once you set it up, you will simply pick up the phone and dial your 11 digit CA/US number for free, or international numbers for a prepaid rate. However, unforturnately, Google Voice does not support +883 dialing directly. You will have to append @inum.net which should be done by Google on the server end. You might be able to set up the ATA or ObiTalk service to do this for you, but I will have to assume no.

The preferred option will be Android. This is because once you log in with your appropriate Google Account, all of your contacts, calendar and services can download to the phone over wifi. This however is not a uniformed way of doing things. Some phones requires the phone to have an active service line. If you have a GSM service, and a GSM phone that will be used for wifi, this may not be an issue. If not, and you can’t bypass the intro screen, you may not be able to use that device. In addition, if you use a SIM card, that SIM card must have data services on. Once you are able to log in, you will want to disable data services on the phone including roaming. This will force the phone to rely exclusively on wifi. If the device is a cellular phone, you will be able to make 911 calls if need be. If the device can not be bypassed to set up without cellular service, and you want to use an Android device, consider waiting for the Archos 35s Smart Home Phone with an estimated price of $160.Once you have your Android phone set up, invest in $5 for GrooVe IP which is available on the Android Market as well as Amazon Market. The Amazon Market will be a good choice in the case you can’t get Android Market which is the case with some Android devices.

iOS  offers two options. The first GV Mobile+ while the second one is Talkatone. While there is an official Google Voice app, I believe it will require a cell phone service to make use of it. Talkatone will use the Google Talk Feature which is exactly what GrooVe IP does.

Now if your device is a Personal Digital Assistant like many Android players, or iPod Touches, you will need a wired handsfree set to make use of the device as a phone. This is why I will recommend an older cellular phone. In addition, you will also have 911 capability (although 911 can’t call back) even if you don’t have a wifi connection. A PDA does not offer this. If you will want a PDA that gives you phone like features, consider the Samsung Galaxy Player 4 for $230, or an iPhone 3GS for about $100 on ebay.

Once you set up service to work with the device, you will be able to make CA/US calls for free. You will need to prepay for international calls, and N11 (other than 011) is not supported. 911 is supported only if you are using a cellular phone (even without service). For the second provider, I will recommend LocalPhone. They will provide you with a free +883 number. In addition, calls to +883 or US Toll Free numbers are free. You could also set the number to forward to a US/CA/UK number for 1¢ per minute. Forwarding to US toll free numbers will not cost anything. This is good if you know you will receive a lot of calls with that number, but not likely to make many. Calls to your +883 number can forward to your Google Voice number and therefore show in the call log. If you would be calling out with the service, you will need a SIP client, or add the SIP service to the Obihai service. One SIP client for both Android, and iOS is Fring.

International Users

Google Voice does not accept international users yet. Therefore, your options will vary a bit. You may also have to pay a bit more if you want unlimited calling to the US. If you are going to call US rarely, rely on US Toll free numbers, or call +883 number mostly, then LocalPhone will be your best option. Calls to CA/UK/US are 1¢ per minute. Calls to other countries vary. If you are going to call the US regularly and spend more than 1500 minutes on the phone (about 50 minutes per day), then consider Call Centric. Like LocalPhone +883 numbers are free, and so is calling them. Toll Free Numbers are not free with Call Centric. If you are expecting to receive many calls from the US, consider a DID.

Now, if you would like to use a regular phone, and your phone has an RJ11 port, you would be able to purchase many ATAs. If there is no RJ11 port on the phone, you may have to buy an adapter. You will need to check with the user’s manual to configure the adapter for your SIP provider. This maybe a daunting task for those not technically savvy, and if the thought truly frightens you, consider the investment of NetTalk if you are dealing with calling US or Canada often. International rates are not the best.

If you have an Android, or iOS device you would be able to install Fring. With Fring, you will typically just need to have the UID, SIP password, and the SIP domain. This removes all of the intricacies of SIP, but may not work with providers that require special configuration. Those considering LocalPhone, Fring works well. Some Android phones may not work well unless you set up the phone using a GSM provider. If this is an issue, make sure there is a return policy before buying the phone. Personal Digital Assistants will require a handsfree set in most cases.

SIP Dialing Conditions

You must have a broadband connection. Your device must be able to get the following capabilities.

  1. <100 ms Ping.
  2. 128kbps upstream, and downstream
  3. ISP not blocking ports 5060

+883 Numbers

This is non geographical international number. This is intended to make it easier for people to call a SIP phone without complexities. However, this is not always the case. In most cases, if the provider offers a +883 number, than they will likely not charge you for calling. At least in the US, no landline, nor cellular provider I know of supports +883 dialing. Most SIP providers either support it for free, or not support it at all. The special thing about a +883 number is that it can be anywhere in the world, and connects the SIP phone to the PSTN (or should). And since all +883 numbers never use the regular telephone service, but the Internet – the call can be done for free or at least as a per minute call. This means that a person in the US can call Asia for free just by calling the Asian’s +883 number and not incur outrageous charges that will otherwise come. This is why I personally have a +883 number even though I never make international calls.

Links

LocalPhone
Google Voice
CallCentric
Obihai
Fring

November 18

Today was a slightly busy day. I had to check something with the bank, and then I went to my brother’s place to drop off a keyboard for Andie. It will seem as if their keyboard no longer worked, and I decided to buy one for them. I stayed there a few hours, and then went home.

I also figured that when I updated to 2.2 on my phone, it would have seem while I got a number of improvements, I seem to no longer have any integrated IM client with the exception of Google Talk (which I have no one on it). So, in turn, I had to decide to get a separate IM client.

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November 2

Today was a day of mostly recovering from yesterday. Chris stopped by for a little while, and I spent a little time chatting, and some email. Otherwise, not much went on. However, tomorrow will be a bit more busy. I am expecting Supernatural (s5:d2) to come in. I will also need to go to the store, and pick up a couple of things. I will also be considering a benefit for my brother’s family (mostly), although I might benefit a little as well.

I had managed to save myself a little cost, and after some unreliability will not be renewing a $3/month service. I wanted to assure that my home phone had a telephone (not a Gizmo, or Google Voice) number which I chose IP Kall. I will have to make sure it is in use, so I would essentially call myself every couple of weeks. The IP Kall line will ring to the Gizmo line, and since the IP Kall line is free, that would save some money.

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Gmail is definitely not Google Voice. C’Mon Google

A couple of days ago, Google introduced the ability for people to make free calls from GMail to any US, or Canada telephone number. In addition, you can call international numbers with Google Voice, and Credit. Some people maybe raving about this, but if this is the best that Google Can do after the acquisition of Gizmo, I am a bit disappointed.

Maybe I’m wrong, and maybe this will be a huge hit, but me being a bit old fashion, I will prefer to use a telephone to make a telephone call. And the number of hardware based phones, while still a little more expensive – it is a real alternative to devices and software that requires a computer to be on all of the time.

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July 24

Not much went on today. Things have been a bit quiet. A friend had a problem regarding her cell phone carrier crippling her phone, and I gave her advise on what to do. Eventually, one of the considerations ended up returning the phone within the return grace period.

I also did some research on a couple of other things for my needs, and seem to have found a service that might be able to actually be promising if they ever opened their SIP. What is it with these companies forcing you to use their hardware, or software to use their service.

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Magic Jack vs. netTALK

I’m sure many heard of Magic Jack. It is a device that plugs into a Windows or Mac PC, and from there – you could plug in a phone, and make calls as long as the PC is not in in sleep mode, and there is a broadband connection.

And netTALK is a very similar device that is on pre-order, but gives you the option to either plug it into a computer, or into a router. Unlike a computer, routers do not have a sleep mode, but you would still need a broadband connection.

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Possible Savings on your phone bill

In these trying economic times, there is a desire to save money where possible. With the cell phone companies still charging you 35¢ per minute for overages, this might actually be of help if you’re on a tight budget. Keep in mind, if you are not home often, or if find using your cell phone more so because you are out – this might not be of best interest to you. In which case, you would want to get an unlimited plan.

Now, this technique would take some work on your part, especially in the beginning, and may even require some investment on your part. However, the monthly fees added to your budget would far outweigh the savings in the long run. So, what would you need for all of this glory to work?

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