As of today we're saving $45 per month by using Google Voice and an OBi VoIP bridge for our home phone!

If that's not a infomercial sounding beginning to a blog post, I don't know what is. But we are, and it was really easy to setup. If you're like us and you still have a land line, and you've been interested in how you can use Google Voice for your home phone, this post is for you.

Background

We're always on the lookout for ways to save a few dollars by altering our approach to normal things. And over the past few months we've been trying to take a critical look at our monthly spending in order to figure out which superfluous items can be eliminated from our monthly budget. When looking over our monthly expenses one of the first items we realized as a potentially unnecessary expense was our Comcast cable bill.

While dropping cable and joining the "cord cutter" movement is a possibility long term, we love TV and I don't see dropping cable anytime soon (though the new Dish Sling option is pretty appealing, and we'll see what Apple might offer in the next few months). However, the bundled services on cable seemed like it might be a good place to find some cost savings.

More specifically, I was looking at the $45 per month we were spending on our landline turned VoIP home phone service. Yes, that's right, $45 for the series of telemarketing, survey, political ad, occasional Microsoft Scammer, and periodic calls from our parents, grandparents, and other people from at least one generation older than us. In short, we were getting about 2-3 useful calls per month, and we were paying a lot for it.

I started to do a bit of research into the various options to drop our landline. Many of our friends don't have a landline any longer, and really the only reason we still had it was for our old security system that we replaced last year. So technically, we didn't really *need* our home phone. But our phone number has been our number since we bought our house 12 years ago, and we're sentimental and nostalgic and aren't ready to get rid of it.

Feeling a bit late to the party on dropping our land line, I started to research our options. Both while looking around online and while speaking with our technology informed friends, one option kept popping up over and over. It involved transferring our landline phone number to Google Voice and then using our existing Internet service for our phone, which includes free calling throughout the United States.

Perfect!

The Plan

In order to accomplish this Google Voice and Internet phone plan we'd need to purchase a few things and follow a series of steps. But our goal was simple, spend some money (about $70) and time (about 2-3 hours) up front and save ourselves $45 per month after that. The process was a series of simple steps.

  1. Check Phone Number Transfer Capability
  2. Purchase pre-paid "burner" phone or sim card and VoIP bridge
  3. Transfer your number to pre-paid phone
  4. Transfer your number to Google Voice
  5. Setup the OBi VoIP device
  6. Configure Google Voice

Step 1: Check Transfer Capability

The most important step in this whole process is the check to make sure your number can be ported.

Google Voice can only accept number ports from cell phone carriers, so you have to actually transfer your number twice during this whole process, once to a cell service and then once to Google Voice. So you need to make sure your number can be transferred to both the cell carrier and Google (since some, like Hawaii numbers, just won't work with Google Voice). So you'll want to check your number on the following two pages, one for the cell provider and one for Google Voice.

First let's check to be sure your number can be handled by Google Voice.

If check your number and it says that something like "Ooops! We currently don't support porting from your carrier. We apologize and are working on adding support for more carriers," that's good news. It means that once your number is on a supported carrier, such as AT&T or Sprint, you'll be able to port your number over to Google Voice.

However, if the check says something like "Ooops! This number appears to be from an area we don't currently support," that's bad news. It means that even if you can port your number to a supported carrier, you might not be able to transfer the number into Google Voice. You might still be able to do something that works for you, but Google Voice is not your answer...sorry.

If you're still in the game from the Google check, let's take a look at whether we can port your number to a carrier.

If this tells you that your number is "Eligible for Transfer," you're good to go onto the next step. And if you prefer to use a different intermediate carrier, you can check your eligibility on their websites as well.

If everything looks good and you get a favorable message, from both then you're ready to move full speed ahead.

Step 2: Purchase a pre-paid "Burner" Phone

In the vain of Scandal or The Wire, we bought a cheap pre-paid or pay-as-you-go cell phone and plan. The purpose of this phone is to act as a middle man in the transfer process. Since you need a cell carrier to have the number you're moving able to move to Google Voice, we need to first get the number to this "burner" phone. We got a great deal on a $9.99 flip phone that I plan to resell on eBay when we're all said and done, but a sim card will work just as well if you already have an unlocked phone.

Just about any cell carrier will work, and really if you already have an unlocked phone laying around, I'd just purchase a SIM card for your favorite carrier so you don't need the whole burner phone, but where's the fun in that? If you are buying a sim card, just be sure it's the right size and type to work with your unlocked phone.

I feel cool like Olivia Pope

In our case, we're familiar with AT&T and they had a good deal for a $9.99 no commitment GoPhone that would be perfect for our needs. We bought the GoPhone and entered in the information necessary to begin the number porting process.

Step 3: Transfer Number to Pre-Paid Phone

This is a bit of step 2a since the porting begins during the purchase process for our phone.

To begin porting your number you'll need to provide your phone number to be ported, your information, as well as the PIN code associated with securing your phone number. In our case we had to log into Comcast's website and determine where to find our PIN. Though it's referenced in several locations, on Comcast's website it's hidden in the equivalent to "under a rock in the corner of the forest." If you're a Comcast customer, look for a link on the very right under the My Account section, Users & Preferences tab, that says "View Voice Security PIN."

Once the phone is purchased and number porting has begun, it will take between one and five business days to complete the port. When you receive your phone in the mail it's best to call AT&T to ask for a number port status. If more than five days pass without confirmation the number is returned to your normal phone provider and the port will fail and you'll need to start over. By calling you can make sure the port keeps moving along.

After the port is successful your burner or unlocked phone will be able to make and receive calls from your ported landline number.

In our circumstance I was able to sign up for the GoPhone plan that is a pay as you go $0.10 per minute. I found conflicting information about having to fund the plan ahead of time, but I ultimately found a support person in AT&T who was willing to active the account without adding any funds.

And if TV has taught me anything, after getting the confirmation call on your burner phone that the number port is successful, you should immediately break the phone in half and throw it in the trash so the people who are tracking you can't find you.

Step 4: Port Your Number to Google Voice

Once your cell phone has your number, you can immediately begin the porting process over to Google Voice, no need to wait.

The Google Voice process is quite simple. You just fill out all of the info in their number port form. The one thing that got me popped up when I needed to provide my new AT&T GoPhone's account number. AT&T doesn't display your account number anywhere on the website or from the phone, you have to call customer service to get your account number. And before you ask, no, it's not the same as your phone number, it's a separate and distinct account number. But a quick call to AT&T resolved this issue and I was on my way.

In order to port your number over to Google Voice you have to pay a one time $20 fee to cover the process. If you're counting along, so far we've spent $29.99 including the burner phone. After filling out the information it will go into a pending state on Google where you'll be able to check the status on the port until it is complete.

Step 5: Setup the OBi VoIP Bridge

Okay, at this point you've got your number transfer started and you're waiting the prerequisite business days for the various ports to finish. Now you'll need to purchase an OBi device to support the final transition of your landline to a VoIP service that uses your internet connection and Google Voice.

If you do a quick search on Amazon you'll see there are several different VoIP device options from OBi, as well as other brands. Each has a different price point and different set of features, from multiple ports to support for fax machines. After looking over everything we decided we only needed the most basic single port option, the OBi100 VoIP Bridge. It offers a single port for connecting to our phone.

In our case we're able to place it in our basement where all of our phone lines are run and can wire in as many phones as we need to through a split panel. But our situation is unique because of how we've wried up our house. In your situation you'll likely just install it where your main phone line comes into the house, or where your cable modem sits.

However, if you'd like to install the device somewhere other than near your phone line or cable line, you can buy one of the OBi200 or OBi202 model and actually hook up a small OBiWiFi Adapter into your OBi which allows you to pretty much connect it anywhere in your house.

Regardless of what you choose, you should be able to hook up the OBi into your network and phone line by simply plugging in a few items, and you're well on your way.

Though the cost of the OBi will vary based on the version your purchase, we spent about $40 for it so we're at $69.99, and that's all we'll have to spend.

Step 6: Setup Google Voice for VoIP

The final step in the process is the setup of Google Voice to work with the OBi VoIP device. OBi has an excellent guide that walks you through the whole setup process, but it's all done on their OBiTalk.com website. The key component to the configuration is setting up Google Voice as one of your OBi's two lines (the other being an e-911 service I'll mention in the next section).

Other than this basic step, there are a ton of small configuration items you can tweak in your OBi. 

And in case you're wondering, Officer Barbrady is the name I gave my OBi device. All of our home's various network devices are Southpark characters. It's been that way since 2000. And yes, Kenny is a computer that's died many times.

Conclusion/Considerations

There are a few things to note about this whole process. While it was all pretty straight forward to accomplish, it did take a few hours of effort in figuring out some of the various oddities. But once it was all setup, it all just worked.

One thing that's really nice about the whole setup is how you can forward your Google voice calls to multiple devices. If someone calls on our home phone number, it rings through to my cell phone, alerts me on my computer, rings on our home phone, and leaves a notification in various places if the call was missed.

While the notifications feel a bit like WUPHF from The Office at first, Google Voice has a lot of great features to help you streamline the process, including number blocking forwarding options, and built in voicemail. After a little more tinkering we're now to a point where only the numbers that we want to get through actually ring to us.

But what about our old phone account, don't we have to cancel it? In our case, after porting our phone number from our Comcast account, I checked our account a day or two later and our phone service had been automatically cancelled. No need to call and argue about why you're canceling the account or anything, it was great! Not only that, but we got a pro-rated credit since we cancelled in the middle of the billing cycle. Each individual service many be different, so be sure to double check

I have read a few concerns about Google Voice no longer supporting XMPP, the protocol that enables VoIP call forwarding that makes the whole system work, and while they were supposed to drop it in 2012, they reversed their decision and kept it in place with official support for OBi being extended in late 2014. This is ultimately what led me to trust this approach as a long term home phone solution. It's true they could drop it at any time, but it seems unlikely given the adoption rate of users using this same approach. More likely would be the possibility that Google begins charging a small fee to keep the feature up and running on an individual account. I could see an annual charge happening in the future, though nothing has been discussed.

While this is all pretty great, the big disadvantage to this whole approach to home phone is the need for power for your phone to function. If you were using a standard copper land line (not VoIP of any sort) and your power goes out, your corded phone still typically works. But since this requires your internet stay up, which means your cable modem, router, and any other devices remain online, you'll need a battery backup to make sure everything stays up and running during power flickers if you're concerned about that. However, with cell phones available, this likely isn't as big of a deal.

And the final major consideration with this type of number port is 911 service. Since you're no longer using a local phone company or service provider, the 911 routing won't work the same, since your call's point of origin is unknown. The way around this is simple, there are multiple e-911 services for this very scenario. You sign up for the service and pay a small annual fee of $10-$20 and enter your local address information. Then you add the e-911 service to your OBi VoIP bridge and anytime you dial 911 the service will route your call to the correct local 911 dispatch. OBi has actually partnered with a service that comes built into their interface. It's call Anveo and is $15 per year. We went ahead and use it as a service due to the ease of setup and configuration in the device. And at this point, the $15 per year will be our only recurring charges for phone.

So when all was said and done we have unlimited calling within the United States on our original phone number completely free of charge. International calling does require credit in Google Voice but the rates are very reasonable. However, we'll just likely use our cell phone for any international calls. We ended up paying about $70 up front and $15 per year for the whole service, so after using it for just two months we'll already be saving money. And best of all, with Google's integration on everything else I already use (Gmail, Docs, Drive, etc), it feels pretty seamless across all of our stuff.

If your considering the switch to using Google Voice as your new home phone, we hope our experience and guide will be useful in helping you transition. And while there are lots of variables and options out there, this is what has worked well for us. Best of luck and we'd love to hear your experiences or questions if you make the switch.

Comments 24

Comments

5/5/2015 at 3:21 AM

I'm looking forward to being able to get rid of our land line when we move, but I'm struggling with my Google Voice number as I have been getting a ton of spam calls there now too. The thing of it is, I don't even know what my GV # is without looking it up, so I have no idea how people are getting it. I've never signed up for anything using it.

Jason
5/11/2015 at 8:07 PM

Thanks for the guide! Followed it almost exactly moving from Comcast to GV. Used a super cheap Tracfone as the burner cell and bought the OBI 200. Works like a charm and was made even easier by your generous step-by-step instructions. Cheers!

JJ
6/10/2015 at 11:06 AM

Thanks for the write up. However, I am a little confused where you write: "When you receive your phone in the mail"

Are you saying AT&T must be in possession of your phone to do the port?

On another note, you can find the AT&T 10c/min plan on the bottom of this page: http://www.att.com/shop/wireless/plans/prepaidplans.html

Abel Clark
6/12/2015 at 10:34 AM

I've been using this system for almost two years, but I've run into a snag that everyone should be aware of. Once your 1st year of service contract with Obi (included with your initial purchase of their device), your Obi will no longer work if you ever want to change your Google password. The device will require you to re-register with Obi and update the password, only they won't allow you to do it for free. You will have to sign up for another year of service with them. So this is not a one time purchase and then free calls for life device. Just be aware.

,e
9/21/2015 at 7:05 AM

I'm guessing you never updated your device's firmware manually? That should allow you to update your Google info using the device's interface. You don't need to buy anything to change your password within the device.

valerie
7/14/2015 at 10:29 AM

Seriously guys?i m all for getting rid of any corporate monopoly,but my time on the job is worth much more than 45.00 per month x 12 after the first year is up and you have to start paying anyway,adding in this technological aggravation. Find a cheaper bundle somewhere or go without. Or get involved with some proposed legislation out there now to put ties around these corporations from becoming the monopolies they have become.

viajerozz
9/28/2015 at 11:09 AM

Huh? I have been using Obi deices for years..never had to pay any fee to them at all. Other than purchase price of the device there was no further cost.

fb
8/9/2015 at 9:30 PM

I just want to thank you for sharing this information with everyone!! we just did it and it worked well. The only problem I am facing is that I had google voice before and used with my cellphone, and now I cannot make calls from my cellphone to my own " home line" and I am still trying to figure out how to Un-linked it. If you have any suggestions please share them. Thank you.

Ric
9/19/2015 at 7:13 PM

This was extremely helpful. I am cutting the landlines at my parents house and moving to Google Voice. You write up was a great guide. Thanks

Linda
10/26/2015 at 5:13 PM

I clicked the link to google voice and it did not give me an option to use landline number, only mobile number, or get a new number?

Clint Jaysiyel
11/1/2015 at 6:18 PM

The concept of paying a monthly fee for an e-911 service is utterly ridiculous. Every VOIP phone should let me configure "911" to call my local police department, or a number my local police department designate as an 'alternate' for 911. It's that simple.

Oh wait, that would require the police to do their jobs.

Jack D
12/11/2015 at 7:48 PM

If you are porting from T-Mobile you will need your account number which is 1+your phone number. You will also need the 4 digit account PIN. Make sure you get that. If you don't then call 611 from your throw away phone, say no to refill request, choose manage my account and follow the instructions. It is easy to setup.

I just made my request to migrate from t-Mobile to Google voice, Hopefully in a few days all should be up and running.

Liz
12/22/2015 at 10:59 AM

Just wanted to say thanks for the detailed instructions. This was very helpful!

Mark
2/3/2016 at 5:58 PM

I just did this. The only thing I would add is to set up the GV account with new number and forwarding to your home number before starting. Google will call the number to verify it. If you buy a burner phone with no money on it Google can't verify it. I did this and had to put the minimum $10 on it to receive the call.

gail
2/18/2016 at 3:19 PM

Google voice with obi talk works like a charm.
I am 67 and loving the free phone. You can tape the number
for police on your phone and say it is an emergency.
I did not sign up 911 service. Obi talk has the option with another company but i taped an emergency number on the phones.
I love Obitalk with google voice. Perfectly clear.

Joel
2/18/2016 at 4:16 PM

Are there any additional taxes or fees on the Anveo e911 service, or is it really only $15 a year? I'm in the process of comparing the same setup as yours with an Ooma, which is "free" after you pay monthly taxes and fees.

4/18/2016 at 4:50 PM

I just did this. Worked well for me. I had to put some minutes on my go phone - $10 more dollars - and some run-around from time warner getting the number trasnferred. Set it up, and it wasn't working at first, followed the Obi (100) online instructions exactly and it worked! Not sure of the trick, got confused when GV was asking for alternate phone number. And then Time Warner switched my plan to ala carte pricing, went up by $100 but then called to get a different package (about the same price as before, I am dropping them ASAP). But overall very good instructions, I appreciate it immensely.

Mary
4/19/2016 at 10:35 PM

Thanks for the info. I am curious, since this was so many years ago, if it is still as seamless as it appears. Also, there is now FI which ports your cell number to their phone and makes the cost ridiculously low after the initial setup. Also, for those of us in Nebraska and a few other states, it is the only way around the "we don't service Nebraska" BUT they will port ANY Google voice number directly into FI.

We became cord cutters recently and are looking into having our landline as my cell number and porting it to voice then to FI. We are already saving $140 off Cox cable bill and about to add another $25 for landline bill! I bought a Tablo OTA DVR so we can still record our shows and watch at our leisure. Add in the lifetime guide option for $150, HDD $85 and in only one more month we will be saving immensely.

Kassandra
9/5/2016 at 12:14 PM

You missed a hint. Check the progress of the port from Comcast to AT&T after calling AT&T at this link. https://www.att.com/port/lnpEntryWeb.do

I must say, in my case Comcast is making the process a big pain. Hope this is done soon. Having the ability to call AT&T and check at this link is a big help to keeping the port moving along.

Barry
9/26/2016 at 11:15 PM

Hi, thank you so much for outlining this in such detail. I plan on doing the same thing, but I was hoping you could answer a question for me. If I set this up just as you've described, can I still use the prepaid phone in addition to the "landline" I set up with google voice? I want to have a landline and the prepaid phone share the same number and ring at the same time. Do you know if this is possible? Thanks.

3/6/2017 at 12:30 PM

Hi, and what a great explanation of the process. Especially enjoyed the paranoid reference to breaking the "burner phone" in half. We have used an OBi200 for two years. Just one charge for the Obi device we bought from Amazon and no further bill. We chose a new number from Google Voice. No porting issues. The calls are very clear. We use a Panasonic two handset cordless phone with answering machine built in. Like you note in your article this makes it easy to setup. No worry about the old installed phone wiring. Again this was the best article i have seen on the whole process.

5/19/2017 at 1:49 AM

Best article I've ever read on this...thanks!!! Absolutely LOVED the TV references - breaking the phone - hahaha.

Sol Lorenzo
6/5/2017 at 12:19 PM

Article makes sense. Will try it out and see if it works. Thank you.
Sol

IJ
6/28/2017 at 2:14 PM

June 2017: This article is still relevant and accurate. I followed exactly, porting a number from Time Warner Cable, to an unused iPhone with AT&T, then to Google Voice. Port to AT&T took 3 days, total cost was $16 (I had to pay for the minimum pre-paid time block of $10 plus the setup fee and taxes. Also, you will definitely need an account number as noted in article -- which is not typically provided for GoPhone accounts). Port to GV took <24 hours, cost was $20. Obi200 works flawlessly.

Since you've not signed in yet, you will need to fill in your name and email below. If you have a Facebook account, save yourself a step and use Connect to login.

Denotes a required field.

Please enter full URL, including http://

You can use Markdown syntax in your comment. And you can also use lots of Emoji!
  • Search

  • Login
  • Follow
  • Advertising

If you're looking for information on advertising and sponsorships, head on over to our sponsorships page. You can purchase site sponsorships in a few easy clicks. 

Toolbox Tuesday
Open Housing

  • Popular Topics
  • Comments
  • Blog Roll
  • We're Featured!

Old Town Home has been featured in the following places and publications:

The Washington Post
 
Washingtonian Magazine
 
Domino
 
Old House Journal
 
 
Apartment Therapy House Tour
 
Washington Post Express Feature
 
Home & Garden Blogs
 
© 2017 OldTownHome.com. - Privacy Policy
Login Below
or
Sign in with Facebook
Connect

Unexpected Error

Your submission caused an unexpected error. You can try your request again, but if you continue to experience problems, please contact the administrator.

Working...

Working...