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I have a proper telephone with a proper UK number and it can make and receive calls, for 2.66/month + 0.5p/minute landline and around 6p/minute to mobile because it's connected via a VOIP gateway.
Without the need for any other fees, other than my broadband provider.

Admittedly, this is only a saving if you can also do away with BTs line termination fee - which rules out most broadband providers (which are just BT resellers anyway) but hey - I'm on a microwave link, so it applies to me.  Hurrah!

So - plugging a plain old normal telephone into (something) and using (magic) to get phone calls over the internet that end up (via more magic) making a real phone ring - and vice versa?

It is possible.  And the instructions, whoa howdy are they all OVER the place.  Much pain.

So here is the procedure I followed, that worked.

Setting up VOIP for Plain old telephone replacement

It works!  It really works!  And blows right through NAT, too.


  1. Purchase OBI100 (obihai.com) -  Amazon stocks it.
  2. Also you want a female-big to male-little adapter; or a little-male to little-male cable (RJ11) because this device has a little port on the back for the phone, but most UK phones have big RJ45-ish connectors.  Amazon, again, not only sell but link as "Most people who bough the obi also bought..." which is such a nice feature sometimes.
  3. Once it arrives, Plug it in.  Power goes to power, phone to phone, ethernet to ethernet.  Duh.  Hard to get this part wrong.  It turns out that the phone doesn't need to be powered separately; the Obi supplies enough power.  Which is nice.
  4. Basic test: Pick up phone.  You've got a dialtone?  Good.
  5. Basic test: Dial **9 222 222 222  You should get an announcment, and then it will echo back what you say to it.  Congrats!  You just placed your first VOPIP call.  Albeit only to Obi's test service.
  6. Still with it plugged in, sign up at obihai.com  Usual confirmation email stuff.
  7. Once that's set up, it'll ask you to call them on the device. ( **5 1038 for me, I assume it's a rotating number) Do so.  It will then tell you the serial # MAC address etc.  Write em down.
  8. Dial ***1 to find the devices IP address.  (Or use your router)
  9. Log in to that - the default username/password is 'admin' and 'admin'
  10. First thing you should do, once you've got that far, is go to System-Management, Device Admin, and CHANGE THE FREAKIN ADMIN PASSWORD!
  11. Right, now we have a VOIP phone that could be used for Skype, google voice etc.  (ObiTALK? is the one it default to) That's about as useful as a smack in the face with a wet fish?  But wait, there's more!
  12. We need someone to route from our IP phone to the POTS telephone network.  Based on the internet, I chose voip.ms  (There are others, and in hindsight, picking a UK-centric one may have been a better plan)  Go there and sign up.  Usual email confirmation sign up process.
  13. Ok, at this point - you're gonna be spending moneys.  If you have a friendly person with an asterisk setup you might want to skip ahead a bit and get them to test incoming calls can actually make your phone ring.  I did, and it made me feel much more confident that throwing money at the problem would actually fix it.  But without that, it's unavoidable that you're going in blind.
  14. Finances->Add funds.  Takes paypal or credit card.  You won't be able to make or receive real calls without it.
  15. It takes a couple of minutes for the balance to be updated.  Wait for the email.
  16. DID doesn't stand for "Damsel In Distress".  Instead, it is the term for "A phone number other people can dial and get you"  Order one.  They are cheap - you could even grab an 0800 (toll free) number if you liked - they're even cheaper per month, but obviously get charged when people dial in.
    1. Choose the 'london.voip.ms' endpoint, unless you like additional lag for no good reason.
    2. It stands for "Direct In-Dialling" --CH
  17. This will take a day or two to come through.
    1. In the meantime, set up the other options - set all the 'account routing' to value, turn off 411 / e911; maybe restrict the list of international calls and set call time limits to avoid spammer running up a huge bill if you make a mistake somewhere.  Dialling mode should default to "NANPA" and leave it there unless you feel like going through a few hours of pain to find the new digit map settings you would need.
    2. You don't need to set caller ID, it looks like that works automagically.  I guess that you could fake one here?
    3. Inbound settings, again, defaults of SIP and ATA Device/IP Phone are correct.
    4. Notifications... you probably want it to email you when your balance gets low, so you can top it up; and while you're at it - emails for username/password changes, things that cost money - but turn off the newsletters, I suggest.
    5. Default DID routing is just "If you buy a new number, we will use these settings as the defaults", which is handy if you're buying a block of numbers, but you can ignore it.
    6. In 'advanced' NAT should be on, DMTF should be auto, and the codecs should be G.711U and G.729a.  Those are the defaults, leave them alone.
  18. Ok, back to the obi.com control panel.  You can get the basics set up via 'approved service providers'.  Set it to voip.ms, select the appropriate (London) end point.  Tell it your voip.ms username (the 6 digit thing) and password.  That's it for the wizard.
  19. Now, go read the better guides:
    1. http://www.toao.net/500-mangos-guide-to-configuring-an-obi-ata
    2. http://wiki.voip.ms/article/OBi_100/110
    3. http://www.obihai.com/docs/OBi-DigitMapCallRoute-Tutorial-v1-1.pdf
  20. Ok, so you want the actual configuration, without the pain of having to understand it.  Here we go.  For all of the following, untick 'default' and then set the new values, and hit 'submit' per page, reboot once done.  Anything I don't mention should have default checked:
    System Management -> Auto Provisioning:
    	Auto Firmware update -> Method:	disabled		(Because newer firmware is allegedly buggy)
    	ISTP Provisioning -> Method : disabled			(To stop random yahoos dialling your phone, or worse, dialling OUT using it)
    	ObiTalk Provisioning -> Method : disabled		(Because, do you use it?)
    		NOTE: Once you turn all of those off, the obi.com web interface won't work any more, as it won't be able to connect to your device.
    		      That's a good thing, the default is that the whole internet can reconfigure your phone!
    		      But I guess you might want to leave it enabled, if you need to reconfigure remotely sometimes.
    System Management -> Device Admin:
    	WebServer -> AdminPassword : <insert your own strong password here>
    	WebServer -> UserPassword : <insert your own strong password here>
    	(You might also want to change the webserver port and set up syslog)
    System Management -> Device Update:
    	Don't do anything here, but remember where it is because you can save/restore configurations which is useful.
    Service Providers -> ISTP Profile A -> General:
    	General -> Name : <six digit username from voip.ms, wizard should have filled it in already>
    	General -> DigitMap : (1xxxxxxxxxx|<0044><0:>[1-9]xxxxxxxxx|<00441223>[2-9]xxxxx|00[2-9]x.|(Mipd)|[^*]@@.)
    		NOTE: That is UK.cam specific, replace the '1223' with your area code (and add an x to the block immediately after it if you have a 4 digit code)
    		Or.. do something completely different for US dialling.  The aim of this is that international dialling is unchanged; but local and national
    		dialling automatically get the full international code and area code prepended, because voip.ms is dialling out fom the US.
    	Service Profider Info:
    		Fill out with something to remind you that this is the voip.ms bit.  It's not used anywhere that I can see, just a reminder block.
    		But it might be useful if you one day set up a second line that goes out via someone else.
    Service Providers -> ISTP Profile A -> SIP:
    	Sip -> ProxyServer : london.voip.ms
    	Sip -> ProxyServerPort : 5060
    	Sip -> RegisterExpires : 300
    	Sip -> X_SessionRefresh : unchecked
    	Sip -> X_AccessList :		(This is what london.voip.ms resolves to.  It SHOULD stop people other than voip.ms making your phone ring)
    Service Providers -> ISTP Profile B:
    	This is where you would set up your helpful friends asterisk account, if you're doing that.
    Voice Services -> SP1 Service:
    	SP1 Service -> Enable : checked
    	SP1 Service -> X_ServProvProfile : A
    	SP1 Service -> X_RingProfile : A
    	SP1 Service -> X_CodecProfile : A
    	SP1 Service -> X_InboundCallRoute : {>('nnnnnn'):ph}		(Where nnnnnn is your 6 digit username from voip.ms, again, protection against random people on the internet making your phone ring)
    	SP1 Service -> X_RegisterEnabled : checked
    	SP1 Service -> X_UserAgentPort : 5080
    	SIP Credentials -> AuthUserName : <6 digit username from voip.ms>
    	SIP Credentials -> AuthPassword : <your password from voip.ms>
    	Calling Features -> MWIEnable : checked
    	Calling Features -> X_VMWIEnable : checked
    	Calling Features -> Message Waiting : unchecked
    Voice Services -> SP2 Service:
    	SP2 Service -> X_ServProvProfile : B
    		The default is 'A' which means two different accounts on the same provider, and ISTP Profile B being completely ignored.  You most likely don't want that.
    Voice Services -> OBiTALK Service:
    	OBiTALK Service Settings -> Enable: unchecked
    Voice Services -> Auto Attendant:
    	(this is for automated voice prompts, I'm not sure you need it - but this configuration works so I aint gonna break it)
    	Auto Attendant 1 -> Primary Line: SP1 Service
    	Auto Attendant 1 -> UsePIN: checked
    	Auto Attendant 1 -> PIN1: <enter a 4 digit PIN of your choosing here>
    Physical Interfaces -> PHONE port:
    	PHONE Port -> OutboundCallroute: {(<:00441223>[1-9]x?*(Mpli)):pp},{(<0:0044>1x?*(Mpli)):pp},{(00[1-9]x?*(Mpli)):pp},{**0:aa},{***:aa2},{(<**1:>(Msp1)):sp1},{(<**2:>(Msp2)):sp2},{(<**9:>(Mpp)):pp},{(Mpli):pli}
    		(Again, replace 44 and 1223 as needed)
    	PHONE Port -> Primary Line: SP1 Service
    	Port Settings -> ChannelTxGain: -2
    	Port Settings -> ChannelRxGain: -1
    		(That'll be volume control, you might want to alter that)
    Ok, 'digit map' is pain.  The idea is that it combines a number of functions:
    It sets up "These are valid phone numbers"
    It can handle things like 'dial 9 for an outside line'
    It can do different dial tones, and different waiting times before dialling.  (So if it knows the phone number is complete it'll ring faster)
    and it can re-write numbers.
    And all of that, in both directions, on different ports (the phone plugged in, SIP1 and SIP2)
    Note: Important info the pdf's don't seem to have is that you can't actually do <X:Y> as a rewrite rule.  You have to do <X><:Y> instead.  No idea why.
    Note: the following (recommended by voip.ms) works for native US dialling, which of course includes international dialling (i.e. 0044 122 342 3302 will connect):
    But the settings in the bigass block I gave work for UK dialling, including modile, AFAICT

  21. You should now be able to test outgoing calls, check:
    1. You can dial full international: 00441223 xxx xxx
    2. You can dial national: 01223 xxx xxx
    3. You can dial local: xxx xxx
    4. You can dial a mobile: 075x xxx xxxx
    5. And do check that you can actually hear, both ends!  Just ringing isn't really enough to be confident!
  22. Wait a business day and then test receiving calls works (from landline, from mobile)
    1. Technically, you can test incoming even before you pay voip.ms anything by setting up SP2 to Clive's asterisk and getting him to dial in.  Nice way to avoid paying money before you're sure.
    2. The important settings are "Voice Services -> SP2 Service -> SP2 Service -> X_ServProvProfile? : B" and setting the ISTP Profile B to have the right address, username and password.
  23. Hoorah!  You have a working phone line!  Check it all works even with the PC turned off.  (It ought to.)
  24. At some point, organise the transfer of your old landline number into voip.ms.  Key term "number portability".  but this is't done via their web form, you need to talk/email to them, so I didn't do it yet.

Addendum: Voip.ms are being arsey about importing numbers into them.  They want a signed invoice from a customer to me giving agreement that I can move their number.  They are used to working with resellers, where I'm the end customer directly.  I really should have found another provider, maybe I need to just write-off the money I put into them already.  --Vitenka
Ah, it seems I must apologise to their processes.  They want to see something sent to me from the company currently providing the number, to show that I hold that number (and so they know who to send off to in order to get it transferred to them).  That makes a lot more sense, unlike their support person.  Of course... I don't actually have such a thing, because who the heck gets paper billing nowadays?  Sigh.  Email to me at work, to print it, then scan it at home...
And now, after MUCH back and forth, they reveal they don't actually have an agreement with BT and cannot import numbers from them.  Despite, uh, every single UK number being originally owned by BT.  (Only a very slight excageration there) so how can they claim to be able to import UK numbers?  So yeah - new advice is to strongly avoid voip.ms and less strong advice is to avoid the whole sector.  And now I have to decide whether to fight for a refund, or just give up and take a new phone number.  --Vitenka (Hate Salespeople so much  If you can't do something, just admit it up front and save us both some time!  Don't freakin advertise 'please call us for details'.)

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Last edited March 24, 2015 8:19 am (viewing revision 7, which is the newest) (diff)