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Thursday, February 15, 2018

My New ObiBox- Free Unlimited Calling to the USA

I'm really, really, really not a phone person. I like talking to people in person, I love talking to people online. I enjoy messaging people through Whatsapp. But phone calls? I don't mind a quick chat on the phone to ask a question or iron out details for something work related (I usually confirm my foraging class recipients in person), but to actually speak on the phone for the purpose of just speaking and connecting? I really am not into that.

With a few exceptions. A few good friends.
Those friends, I can speak to on the phone for hours and never get sick of it. Talking to them is effortless and makes me happy, makes it easier for me to do housework, makes my life better...
And of these friends, the friend I talked to the most on the phone, the one whose calls me me smile as soon as I saw who it was... moved to the US a few weeks ago.
This friend had forethought, and before she moved, gifted me with something called an ObiBox, and with that, our relationship can still continue and thrive via the phone without breaking the bank, even if its missing the "real life" things that you can only do in person, like hugs...


So what is an ObiBox? It's a little piece of machinery that plugs into your internet router, and you plug your phone into that. Once that's done and everything is set up, you can use your phone to call the US with unlimited minutes, just as long as your internet is working.

I have a confession- for someone who lives on her computer and smartphone, I really don't like tech. I don't like needing to learn something new, figuring out a new piece of equipment and how it works, so even though I had this Obibox sitting in my house for a few weeks, it took until I was desperate enough for a phone call with my friend to figure out how to work it and get it set up.
It was a lot simpler than I thought it would be- I was scared off for no reason.

Basically, how it works is that the ObiBox is a VOIP (voice over IP) phone adapter- a "voice over IP" phone adapter. You need to get a VOIP number and once you do, you configure it with your ObiBox.

The cheapest way to do this is by getting a free Google Voice number. Just warning you that it didn't seem to work with my account by signing into my account locally- I had to get a friend in the US to sign into my account from the US, and sign up for a phone number, and then it worked. Google voice phone numbers are totally free with unlimited calling, and voice mail gets emailed to you to your email account.

Once you have the number, you go to ObiTalk's website, log in with your Google account, and follow the steps there. It really is simple. You check yes to give permissions, plug in the phone to the Obibox and the ObiBox to the router, then call the number from the phone that it gives you, and that gives a message to the router/server or something, and then it starts working. The tutorial to set it up is here, but for some reason, I was too nervous about setting it up until my friend walked me through it, and then I saw how simple it was.

So how does this save money?
Well, since the Google voice number is free and has unlimited calling to and from the US, if you live overseas, this can significantly lower your long distance phone bills. The only expense is the one time payment for the ObiBox, that now costs a one time fee of $50. From then on, you don't have to pay a cent more for phone calls. And because I was gifted an old ObiBox from my friend, this cost me absolutely nothing.

I know many people who debate about whether it is even worth having a home phone line, or just cell phones. If you have an ObiBox, you can have a free home phone line and not have the question of whether or not it is worth the price. There are a few points to mention about that:
The ObiBox doesn't let you call 911.
The ObiBox requires internet to work, so in a blackout or when the internet is down, it doesn't work.
Locally, in order to get an internet line, you anyhow need a phone line. So that wouldn't work here, but in places where you can get home internet without a phone line, it is a good solution.

How is the quality? Absolutely perfect. I can't tell that it's a VOIP line instead of a regular phone line.

One little thing I want to point out- when I tried plugging my ObiBox into my router, it didn't work at first, because I couldn't have it in the "Line One" jack- I needed to move it to another jack and then it worked.

Apparently there are ObiBoxes that you can use to have two different phone lines in it, but I don't have experience with that. There also is a way to use ObiBoxes with other VOIP phone line providers, so you probably can get it to work with VOIP numbers from other countries.

But for now, this is good enough for me. I can call my friend and get calls from her, can call my American bank without paying long distance fees, and this little box makes me happy.

Totally recommend it.

And no, this post wasn't sponsored. Just a very happy satisfied customer. And what's not to be happy about when it's free and works perfectly?

Do you have a VOIP line? What program do you have for it? How much does it cost? Have you ever heard of ObiBox? Have you used it? What has your experience with it been? Does this look like something you'd get?
P.S. Anyone else really, really, really not a phone person here?

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for this; I'm going to look into it. We're in the US, in an area with very little cellphone coverage (too many mountains.) But landline calls have gotten horribly expensive. We'd have to keep the landline -- the power goes out sometimes -- but this can serve whenever the electricity works! Thank you, this will make a huge difference.

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