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First Encounter: Setting up OBi with Call Centric

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I consider myself as a non-technical person when it comes to setting up VoIP equipment that requires more complex manual configuration (e.g. analog telephone adapter also known as ATA). That is why I prefer using full service VoIP providers that offer 24/7 support and pre-configured ATAs for simple plug and play. Single box solutions such as Ooma Telo, netTalk DUO and magicJack are also good VoIP alternatives because they are almost as simple to set up and operate. However, I couldn’t help but wonder about the real effort required to configure my own ATA. To solve this mystery, I got an OBihai ATA so I could share my setup experience with you (useful tips included).

The reason for selecting OBi as the ATA brand to test is because a good friend with telecommunication background told me OBi ATAs are perceived as the “best” in the VoIP world. Based on this recommendation, I purchased an OBi110 ATA from Amazon.ca. Please note, there are plenty of old references (including OBi110’s packaging and website) of using Google Voice in conjunction with OBi ATAs for making free phone calls. Sadly, Google Voice is no longer available.

While calls made between OBi ATAs are free, without a proper VoIP service subscription, OBi110 alone won’t allow me to make or receive calls from regular and mobile numbers, including 911. Therefore, a VoIP service provider is a must for both practical and safety reasons. The best place to research VoIP service providers in Canada is www.gonevoip.ca. The website contains over 400 VoIP service providers under one roof and clearly lists calling features and pricing from each VoIP provider. Combined with a large archive of user reviews, www.gonevoip.ca reduced my VoIP provider research time considerably. In the end, I decided to sign up with Callcentric which has a very good overall user rating and competitive pricing. Upon completing the sign up and ordering process in Callcentric’s website, I received a confirmation email which included a SIP login # that is crucial for configuring the OBi110 to work with Callcentric.

OBi110 is very easy to set up (physically) as long as the following items are close to the device: a telephone, Ethernet cable with high-speed Internet connection from a wired or wireless router, a power outlet, and a traditional landline telephone jack (optional). So I connected my cordless telephone to the ATA, and then plugged in the Ethernet cable and power adapter was hooked up last. I was able to get a dial tone from the handset immediately so I dialed “**+9+ 222-222-222” to test my device to see if it was working properly. After confirming my OBi110 was functioning properly, the real challenge was to configure OBi110 so it would work with my Callcentric VoIP service subscription. To access OBi110’s configuration menu, a PC must be connected to the same network as OBi110. So I opened my PC’s web browser and input my OBi110’s IP address in the address bar (I got the IP address by dialing ***+ 1). OBi110’s configuration menu then appeared in the web browser. I then opened another webpage and went to Callcentric’s website and clicked on “ATA Adapter” under “Supported Devices” and chose OBI100/110. Then I simply followed the step-by-step setup instructions, copied and pasted necessary info from Callcentric’s OBI setup guide into OBi110’s configuration menu. Quick tip, I placed both webpages on the same screen so it’s easy to navigate without constantly going back-and-forth between two webpages.  Another tip, make sure “submit” at the bottom of each OBi110 configuration page is clicked every time you make changes (followed by “Reboot”). I learned this the hard way because I entered everything in the configuration menu and clicked on “submit” as the last step, but everything was lost except for the most recent change. Yet another tip, “AuthUserName” is the SIP login # contained in the Callcentric email mentioned above and “AuthPassword” is the same password for logging into your Callcentric account. After I completed all the steps according to Callcentric’s OBi setup guide, I tried calling Callcentric’s test number (which is 1-777-000-0001). To my surprise, I was greeted with an automated voice message stating “No Service Configured Error.” All of the sudden, OBi’s configuration menu looked extremely intimidating because I did not know where the issue was and there were numerous customizations available in OBi’s configuration menu. I checked the input values from Callcentric’s support webpage numerous times but all the values I entered into OBi’s configuration menu appeared to be correct. After a couple of hours of playing with OBi110’s configuration settings, I discovered that Callcentric’s setup guide missed one crucial step for OBi110 ATAs. So my final tip for all OBi110 users is choosing “SP1 Service” instead of PTSN under Physical Interfaces/PHONE Port/Primary Line.  Finally, I was able to make regular phone calls and my hard work was rewarded with good voice quality.

To conclude, configuring an ATA with a VoIP service is an acceptable task if you follow the setup guide religiously because the ATA wouldn’t work with even the smallest error. For those who enjoy the challenge of tinkering with electronic settings and seeking the best VoIP deals, you should give configuring your own ATA a try. As for me, I proved that even a non-technical person like me can configure an ATA. However, I would probably not go further than that because unlocking the full potential of any ATA would require additional research and knowledge.

Article Written by Andrew Lin for Gonevoip

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