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Author Topic: What Is OBiTalk?  (Read 7610 times)
eightminobi
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« on: June 25, 2016, 08:31:30 am »

I come from an engineering background but in an entirely different industry from telephony, so I am admittedly very confused by OBiTalk. Even OBi as a company doesn't seem to explain exactly what it is and how it fits in to the telephony architecture. If you go to OBiTalk.com, you see promotional material, all sorts of ads touting GoogleVoice support, information on devices, etc., but nothing about OBiTalk as a technology, per se (at least that I could find...).

So here is my "disconnect": If I buy an OBi202 unit--an ATA (analog telephone adapter) device that connects to my house phone using standard POTS RJ11 and to the internet--and then I go to the IP address of the OBi202 and get to its configuration screens, I can configure my Vitelity (my VOIP provider) under the ITSP section and then further configure that connection using the Voice Services section. As far as I understand it, once properly configured, my OBi202 will work and I will be able to make and receive calls. I never have to even think about OBiTalk or ever visit OBiTalk.com (as far as I know).

So where/how does OBiTalk fit in? I understand that I can "see" my OBi devices once I create an account and log on to obitalk.com, but is it just a friendly way to configure my devices using the internet so that I can make tweaks to my equipment when I do not have access to my home network (where the equipment is physically installed)? Is OBiTalk just a website to help you configure devices or is it also an actual active middleware layer that sits between my Vitelity account and my OBi202 device? Is there a network architecture diagram available anywhere on the OBi websites (obihai.com, obitalk.com, or elsewhere?) that explains the architectural role of OBiTalk rather than tout its features???

I ask because I had a working OBi202/Vitelity set up and then added the OBi1022 phone. And now that I have two OBi devices, understanding the architecture is no longer optional. I am especially confused when it comes to the auto attendant (AA). Apparently (I think, at least!) the OBi202 AND ALSO the OBi1022 offer an auto-attendant--so now I have two AA's. On my phone system, I would want a SINGLE auto attendant to be available because I want my two Vitelity accounts to behave the same way on both OBi202 and OBi1022 devices--so I want both devices to share the AA as if the OBi1022 acts like the RJ11 phones hanging off of the OBi202 device... (see my other post about ringing: https://www.obitalk.com/forum/index.php?topic=11401.0) I think configuring this properly requires a deeper understanding of the role OBiTalk plays in orchestrating inbound and outbound calls to/from my OBi devices...

Thanks,
Steve
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drgeoff
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« Reply #1 on: June 25, 2016, 09:06:28 am »

There is the Obitalk portal through which you can configure all the OBi ATAa and OBi IP phones which you have added to an account.  Do not mix configuration via the portal and configuration via an Obi's onboard GUI.  Use one or the other.

There is the Obitalk network through which OBi ATAs and IP phones (and Android or iPhone with the Obion app) can communicate with each other using the 9 digit numbers (on a sticker on the underside) and without using a third party ITSP.  Use is optional and is in addition to any third party ITSPs you configure.

When using a third party ITSP the signalling and voice data flow only between your OBi device and that ITSP.

An AA is internal to a device.

There is a wealth of information in the Admin Guides available at http://www.obihai.com/docs-downloads.  However they are neither a quick nor easy read, especially the first ten times you read them.  Smiley
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azrobert
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« Reply #2 on: June 25, 2016, 10:11:53 am »

Additional info:
This is where you create an OBiTalk account:
https://www.obitalk.com/obinet/

You would then add your devices to OBiTalk and configure them.
After you add your devices OBiTalk will reset you configuration.
When you make changes, OBiTalk will download the configuration and reboot your device.
After this procedure your device will work as if configured locally.

You can backup your configurations and import them into OBiTalk, so you don't have to start from scratch. Do the backup before you start. You will lose any Speed Dials you have previously configured.

In addition OBiHai has a network where you can call any connected device. Your devices automatically connect to the OBiHai network without being added to your account, but I don't think you will be able to call between your devices without adding them to OBiTalk. You can verify you're connected by calling the echo test. Just dial "**9222222222". If this works try calling your other device by dialing **9 followed by the 9 digit number OBi number of the device your calling. A long time ago I tested calling another OBi with an unregistered device and the call failed, but maybe things have changed.

If you have to add your devices to OBiTalk to get this to work and want to continue using the local interface to configure your devices do the following:
Add devices to OBiTalk.
Import configs into OBiTalk.
Locally turn off OBiTalk Auto-Provisioning.
Restore your configuration locally from your backup.
This should restore your speed dials and remove any unwanted changes OBiTalk made.
« Last Edit: June 25, 2016, 10:25:05 am by azrobert » Logged
eightminobi
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« Reply #3 on: June 25, 2016, 10:42:15 am »

@drgeoff: Awesome--you made the very good point that ObiTalk is BOTH a portal (for configuring devices) and a network that behaves like an ITSP (it's a floor-wax AND a dessert topping!)... I did not realize this! So are you saying that voice data flows through the ObiTalk network ONLY WHEN making Obi-to-Obi calls using the 9-digit Obi device ID? And that all other voice calls (to actual phone numbers) flow through the third-party ITSP through which one has VOIP service?

I also missed the doc-downloads area until I saw your link--thanks! As a programmer, I'm sure I'll enjoy reading those materials.

@azrobert: Thank you also for your summary--very helpful.

I added more detail to my other posted question based on this thread...

Thanks,
Steve
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Lavarock7
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« Reply #4 on: June 25, 2016, 10:46:37 am »

@Azrobert: Were you speaking about an Obi not registered at all in the Obi network at all or just not in your  account?

I just tested calling to an Obi not in my account. I had set up a separate Obi account for a neighbor, registered the Obi and added service providers. Then I left it connected at his house while he is on vacation.

When I dialed that Obi number from my home Obi (**9500xxx..) it rang and rang. I logged into the neighbors account and sure enough it was ringing at his house:

State ringing Fork to multiple terminals: PH1 PH2

I was under the impression that Obi to Obi calls were only allowed within the same account. Seems not.
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drgeoff
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« Reply #5 on: June 25, 2016, 11:02:14 am »

@Azrobert: Were you speaking about an Obi not registered at all in the Obi network at all or just not in your  account?

I just tested calling to an Obi not in my account. I had set up a separate Obi account for a neighbor, registered the Obi and added service providers. Then I left it connected at his house while he is on vacation.

When I dialed that Obi number from my home Obi (**9500xxx..) it rang and rang. I logged into the neighbors account and sure enough it was ringing at his house:

State ringing Fork to multiple terminals: PH1 PH2

I was under the impression that Obi to Obi calls were only allowed within the same account. Seems not.
All OBis.  That is why it is not a good idea to reveal your OBi number(s) in posts here.  Smiley
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azrobert
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« Reply #6 on: June 25, 2016, 11:10:09 am »

@Azrobert: Were you speaking about an Obi not registered at all in the Obi network at all or just not in your  account?

I was talking about an OBi not added to any account. Any OBi is automatically connected to the OBiTalk network, otherwise you wouldn't be able to add your device to OBiTalk or do an echo test.

When I bought a 2nd OBi device I tested calling my 1st device and it failed. After adding the device to OBiTalk the call worked. That was years ago and I assume nothing has changed, but I'm not sure.
 
You can absolutely call any OBi added to another account. That is why you should check the OBi number from calls over the OBiTalk network, especially when routing the call to the AA.
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drgeoff
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« Reply #7 on: June 25, 2016, 11:13:35 am »

So are you saying that voice data flows through the ObiTalk network ONLY WHEN making Obi-to-Obi calls using the 9-digit Obi device ID? And that all other voice calls (to actual phone numbers) flow through the third-party ITSP through which one has VOIP service?
Yes and yes.

(Be aware that 'other voice calls' can be to endpoints which are not reachable by dialling 'actual phone numbers'.  Just as an email address is of the form 'an.other@isp.com', a SIP endpoint is 'sip:an.other@itsp.com'. or even 'sip:me@myhomerouterswanIP'.  The first of those does not necessarily have an E.164 phone number associated with it.  Calls to the second could be routed from one SIP terminal to another SIP terminal without passing through any ITSP.)
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eightminobi
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« Reply #8 on: June 25, 2016, 11:36:55 pm »

Wow, this is really good information...

I am surprised that I've not gotten fund-raising calls to my OBI. According to your post, there is nothing to stop someone from serially connecting to other OBi phones using OBiTalk...  Shocked

Having said that, OBiTalk really is a neat way to communicate among devices. I especially like that I can configure my at-home OBi202 from anywhere in the world.

I think I do want to use OBiTalk features--not to communicate with other OBi users, but to do intra-home/office communication between me and people working in other rooms in the house. If we each have an OBi1022 sitting on our desk, it would be great to be able to call other "offices" using the OBiTalk network rather than make an actual phone call and tie up lines. I still don't know how to provision the empty phone-buttons on my OBi1022, but in time I would like to use them to make/receive intraoffice calls to other OBi units.

Thanks,
Steve
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drgeoff
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« Reply #9 on: June 26, 2016, 01:10:36 am »

I am surprised that I've not gotten fund-raising calls to my OBI. According to your post, there is nothing to stop someone from serially connecting to other OBi phones using OBiTalk...  Shocked
Spam calls over the Obitalk network do not seem to be much of a problem and even if they become so, for most OBi owners the list of Obitalk numbers they would wish to receive calls from is small.  It is not difficult to set up a white list and block calls from all other Obitalk numbers.

What is a problem, and you will run into it sooner or later is SIP scanners.  Your phone rings, shows a Caller ID of 101 or similar, you answer and there is no one there. These 'calls' come in not via an ITSP but directly to a port (usually in the 5060 to 5080 range) on your router's WAN address.  These are probes looking for ways into SIP systems which can be exploited to make calls at your expense. There are countermeasures discussed in http://www.obitalk.com/forum/index.php?topic=5467.0, notably the 'Oleg method'.
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eightminobi
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« Reply #10 on: June 26, 2016, 11:23:54 am »

Very interesting! Thanks for the additional information and link.
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