Free VoIP Product

by Scott Austin March 08, 2012

Disclaimer - I am not associated with products / services that I discuss on this blog.  I'm not getting paid/compensated in any way.  It's just me sharing my opinion.

As a startup, I'm always looking for ways to save money.  One way that have found is using VoIP for my phone.  Most VoIP systems use a PC, but I found one (I'm sure there are others, but this is the only one I've used) that does not use/require a PC.

Most people are familiar with Google Voice.  It allows you to pick a US phone in any area code.  Then you can direct that number to any phone that you want.  I use it for my personal number.  I have a Google Voice account/phone number.  I direct it to my cell phone.  If I change my cell carrier or job (that provides you a phone), I change my Google Voice to point to the new phone number.  That way, anyone I give my phone number to can still contact me even if I've changed carrier, job, etc.  You can also redirect your Google Voice number to a hard line if you in an area with poor cell coverage.  Pretty cool and totally free for US dialing (inbound and outbound).

That's the first piece.  But Google Voice alone does not get you PC-less VoIP.  The next piece is an OBiTalk device.  It's a very small (size of a deck of cards) piece of hardware.  You connect it to your network through an ethernet connection.  You then configure the OBiTalk device to connect to your Google Voice number.  You need a PC for this step, but it's a one-time process.  Once it's configured, you connect any hard line phone to your OBiTalk device.  The device bridges your phone to your network and enables all of the Google Voice dialing services.  So you have unlimited inbound and outbound US dialing.  You can even use it for faxing.

One of the downsides of this solution is that it is dependent on the quality of your internet connection.  I've got a 20MB pipe with Time Warner Cable.  So I've got plenty of bandwidth for this service and anything else that I'm doing in parallel.  But I do have a problem with the quality of the service.  It will frequently (daily) drop for a moment or two.  Small hiccups if you are on your PC.  But this hiccups mean your call is dropped if you are on the phone.  Not fun.  I'm thinking of changing ISPs because of this.

The OBiTalk device is available at Amazon for $40.

So, now my company has a phone number that I can post/publish.  I can answer the calls or let them go to voice mail.  And there's no monthly fee (if you consider your ISP a sunk cost).

Scott Austin
Scott Austin