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Author Topic: The route an Obie/Google Voice call takes  (Read 82947 times)
Lateralg
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« on: February 06, 2012, 04:12:58 pm »

I'll be presenting the features of Obie to a group of ~100 very active senior citizens.  Their interest is in saving $$ while getting quality and reliable phone communication.  Many of them are technically savvy, many can't spell VOIP.  I'm a retired BSME with knowledge somewhere between the two.

An important piece of information is the route a phone call takes.  I need information that would allow me to construct a flow chart showing each step, each service, each device, that's involved from the time a caller dials, to the time a callee (??) answers.  If the ensuing conversation takes a different route, what would that route be?

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RonR
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« Reply #1 on: February 06, 2012, 04:15:03 pm »

OBi Device Administration Guide
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Stewart
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« Reply #2 on: February 06, 2012, 06:11:54 pm »

I'll be presenting the features of Obie to a group of ~100 very active senior citizens.
I wouldn't touch that project with a ten-foot pole.  Elderly people need reliable access to 911 and other emergency services.  Though you would of course set up their OBi devices with CallCentric or another reliable provider for 911, any failure of equipment, power, Internet service or VoIP provider would prevent a 911 call from going through.  With a group that large, there is a significant probability of that happening, especially since a person not technically savvy may take a long time to recognize a problem or get it corrected.

If someone died or ended up in a vegetative state as a result of being unable to reach 911, it would weigh on my conscience for the rest of my life.  Possibly, one of their kids would sue.  In addition to risks associated with emergencies, you will likely be inundated with support calls from clueless users.

In most places, one can get "lifeline", "basic", "low-use" or "measured" landline service for low cost, especially if they qualify as low-income.  If the landline includes unlimited local calling, you can call through Google Voice to get free long distance and good international rates.  If not, you can make free calls by using the Call button on the GV site.   Of course, you can also make and receive calls with Gmail.

An OBi110, backed up with a lifeline landline, may be a good choice.  Make sure that the bypass works (you can access the landline when the OBi has no power) and that 911 calls are properly routed to the landline; see RonR's post http://www.obitalk.com/forum/index.php?topic=34.msg14280#msg14280 .

If you really want to go without a landline, make sure that your "customers" have suitable backup.  For example, they should keep their cell phone charger at bedside and put the phone on charge every night.  There should be a plan for a third option, appropriate to their living situation (neighbor, doorman, cellular-based panic button, etc.)
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RonR
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« Reply #3 on: February 06, 2012, 06:20:53 pm »

Make sure that the bypass works (you can access the landline when the OBi has no power)

Recent reports are that the OBi hardware revision currently being shipped does not contain the fail-safe relay.  Consequently, any telephones connected to it are totally inoperative when the OBi has no power.
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Stewart
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« Reply #4 on: February 06, 2012, 06:34:27 pm »

Recent reports are that the OBi hardware revision currently being shipped does not contain the fail-safe relay.  Consequently, any telephones connected to it are totally inoperative when the OBi has no power.
I saw those posts, but was hoping that there was just a few defective units.  Intentionally omitting the relay sounds like a lawsuit ready to happen.  I just noticed that the manual now says "Logical FXS to FXO Relay For Service Continuity in Case of VoIP Service Failure", but I doubt that even that functionality is reliable -- there are many reasons why a device could be successfully registered but an outbound call won't work.

For the OP: a conservative approach is to keep a line-powered, corded phone, connected directly to the landline.  Of course, you won't be able to make GV calls or access other OBi functions from that phone.
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RonR
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« Reply #5 on: February 06, 2012, 06:46:23 pm »

I saw those posts, but was hoping that there was just a few defective units.  Intentionally omitting the relay sounds like a lawsuit ready to happen.  I just noticed that the manual now says "Logical FXS to FXO Relay For Service Continuity in Case of VoIP Service Failure", but I doubt that even that functionality is reliable -- there are many reasons why a device could be successfully registered but an outbound call won't work.

I didn't look for it, but I believe one post quoted a response from Obihai confirming the omission of the relay in current units.

I think the manual has always listed "Logical FXS to FXO Relay For Service Continuity in Case of VoIP Service Failure", but AFAIK, nothing but a power failure (and a reboot) deactivates the (once present) relay.  The OBi does a horrible job of detecting a VoIP trunk failure when it comes to using Trunk Groups and I've never seen any indication it attempts to deactivate the relay under those conditions.
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Lateralg
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« Reply #6 on: February 07, 2012, 10:13:50 am »

Meanwhile, back to the topic:

"The route an Obie/Google Voice call takes"

Being one of the "elderly" people, I'm well aware of the importance of 911, and will address ways of dealing with it during my presentation.

Most of my audience needs to communicate with children & grandchildren who live in another state or country.  They're likely to retain existing land lines if they go to Obie.

Without knowledge of Obie's capabilities, they're likely to go with Ooma, MagicJack, Vonage, Skype ... and receive less value for their time and money.

I sincerely appreciate the thought & time put into your replies.  I also hope that you can help us elderly folk get the information we're looking for.
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Gary
Lateralg
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« Reply #7 on: February 07, 2012, 11:12:55 am »

RonR

Thanks for the link to the administration guide.

Skimming it leads me to the conclusion that we really don't need Google Voice.  In fact, it appears that Obie capabilities far exceed those of GV.  Correct?

Is there a glossary of terms available anywhere?

I also conclude that we can count on Obie being around for awhile.  They have clearly invested a huge amount in developing capabilities.  The very-well-done guide itself represents a significant investment. 
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Gary
RonR
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« Reply #8 on: February 07, 2012, 11:32:19 am »

Lateralg,

The OBi100/110 is a hardware device produced by Obihai.  While Obihai does provide an OBiTALK Service voice server that allows OBi units to communicate with each other at no extra charge, a separate service provider such as Google Voice or a SIP provider is required for making PSTN calls.

As to the future of Obihai and the OBiTALK servers, we all hope they will be around for a long while, but there are certainly no guarantees.  There are also no guarantees of uptime on the OBiTALK configuration and voice servers, which have suffered a few outages over time.  Loss of the configuration server poses no real problem as the OBi can be configured directly.  Loss of the voice server can also be circumvented by using SIP to interconnect the OBi's, but it requires slightly more in the way of configuration.
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infin8loop
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« Reply #9 on: February 07, 2012, 04:24:32 pm »

I'll be presenting the features of Obie to a group of ~100 very active senior citizens.
I wouldn't touch that project with a ten-foot pole.

Listen to Stewart now and believe him later. 

When does one go from being just an old fart to elderly?  I guess if I have to ask.... 


* OPie202.jpg (37.61 KB, 720x480 - viewed 577 times.)
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Lateralg
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« Reply #10 on: February 07, 2012, 05:33:03 pm »

Many of us haven't arrived at either stage. Cool
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Gary
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« Reply #11 on: February 07, 2012, 06:14:04 pm »

Gary,

I'm not sure that a (necessarily) dumbed down description of the OBi would do much good.  For example, you could explain to someone in a few minutes, the basics of how an automobile works, which might be useful if he were afraid of cars, or just curious.  However, that brief outline would be insufficient for him to evaluate the advantages of one design over another.  It's the same with VoIP -- in the simple view, OBi, Ooma and Vonage all look the same!  (MagicJack and Skype would be different, only in that most of the work is done in the user's PC, rather than dedicated hardware.)  Anyhow, here goes:

The call setup and teardown "signaling" is separate from the voice path.  When you take the phone off the hook, the OBi notices the current flow and provides dial tone.  It decodes the DTMF (touch tones) and sends the number dialed, along with (previously configured) user account information to a Google server.  If the request is valid, Google contacts an interexchange carrier (IXC), e.g. AT&T or Bandwidth.com, who initiates a call on the PSTN.  If successful, a signal is sent back via Google to the OBi, which plays ringback tone to the user.  When the call is answered, the Google server sends info to the OBi, giving the IP address and port of a server to receive voice packets.

The OBi converts the analog voice signal from the user's phone to digital samples, taken 8000 times per second.  Each sample is encoded into eight bits.  Each 20 milliseconds of voice (160 samples) is sent over the Internet in an IP packet to a Google server, which forwards it to the IXC server.  For each packet, the IXC sends 160 samples over the traditional TDM (time division multiplex) telephone network, which routes it to the called party's central office.  There, the samples are converted back to analog and sent over a copper pair to the destination phone, which reproduces the caller's voice.  The entire process also operates in reverse, providing a speech path back to the caller.
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Lateralg
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« Reply #12 on: February 08, 2012, 03:06:55 pm »

Thanks Stewart, that's a big help.

As usual, answers generate new questions.  My elder brain is working on them now.  If I remember I wrote this, I'll return with another post containing questions.

If you don't see another post, then either I forgot, or ............
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Gary
Lateralg
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« Reply #13 on: February 08, 2012, 03:09:06 pm »

BTW, my avatar photo was taken right after I passsed the MSF test at age 74.  I was the only one in our class to ace the parking lot maneuver test.
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Gary
Stewart
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« Reply #14 on: February 08, 2012, 07:48:28 pm »

If it would be useful, I'd be glad to post my suggestions / opinions on phone services for your friends' situations.  When is your presentation?

BTW, I Googled your moniker and found that we have a lot in common.  For starters, both of us are retired engineers (in fields unrelated to telephony) and migratory birds.
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Lateralg
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« Reply #15 on: February 09, 2012, 08:17:57 am »

Stewart, that's an offer I can't refuse.

Presentation is scheduled for April.  I'm now putting together an outline, making a list of questions, learning Powerpoint and how I can feed it with the information I'm capturing in Evernote (the combination looks very promising)

I'll begin assembling a cogent list of questions by end of week.  Is posting them here a good way to go?  Seems like it would be, since others can benefit.

Is this consistent with your offer?
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Gary
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« Reply #16 on: February 11, 2012, 07:22:28 pm »

There is actually a way to still call 911 without a landline. It involves using a bluetooth capable cell phone and a device that interfaces bluetooth to RJ-11 that then connects to the POTS port of the OBI110. One such device you can get for $30 to do this is the Cobra PhoneLynx: http://www.cobraphonelynx.com/

Since all cell phones must be able to call 911 even without a service plan, linking a cell phone to the PhoneLynx through bluetooth and then connecting the PhoneLynx to the OBI110 will let 911 calls go through when they otherwise wouldn't work through Google Voice or other VoIP services. All that required is to just spend a little extra money on the hardware, but no service plan is needed.
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Rick
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« Reply #17 on: February 12, 2012, 09:05:49 am »

There is actually a way to still call 911 without a landline. It involves using a bluetooth capable cell phone and a device that interfaces bluetooth to RJ-11 that then connects to the POTS port of the OBI110. One such device you can get for $30 to do this is the Cobra PhoneLynx: http://www.cobraphonelynx.com/

Since all cell phones must be able to call 911 even without a service plan, linking a cell phone to the PhoneLynx through bluetooth and then connecting the PhoneLynx to the OBI110 will let 911 calls go through when they otherwise wouldn't work through Google Voice or other VoIP services. All that required is to just spend a little extra money on the hardware, but no service plan is needed.

That plan gives you no advantage (except spending more money) over the easier option of directing your 911 calls to a non-911 emergency number as described in other posts.  The flaw in both that approach and your suggested approach is the absence of E911 capability - where the emergency dispatcher is given the address of the calling party, which provides system capability to auto locate the nearest responding units and provide GPS guided directions to them. 

I could have taken the non-911 emergency number route, but for $1.50 per month via Callcentric (and $1.50 setup), is it really worth risking someone's life if they can't give the emergency operator the proper location?  I know that if my in-laws were visiting they don't have a clue. 

In my opinion, removing a landline from an elderly person is foolhardy and not worth saving the money.  Cutting their service to the bare minimum, and providing calling via the OBi and GV or other services, is the best way to go if saving money is your goal.
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Rick
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« Reply #18 on: February 12, 2012, 09:06:53 am »

BTW, I Googled your moniker and found that we have a lot in common.  For starters, both of us are retired engineers (in fields unrelated to telephony) and migratory birds.

Wow, the OBi forum is like eHarmony  Cheesy
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Ostracus
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« Reply #19 on: February 12, 2012, 05:42:21 pm »

There is actually a way to still call 911 without a landline. It involves using a bluetooth capable cell phone and a device that interfaces bluetooth to RJ-11 that then connects to the POTS port of the OBI110. One such device you can get for $30 to do this is the Cobra PhoneLynx: http://www.cobraphonelynx.com/

Since all cell phones must be able to call 911 even without a service plan, linking a cell phone to the PhoneLynx through bluetooth and then connecting the PhoneLynx to the OBI110 will let 911 calls go through when they otherwise wouldn't work through Google Voice or other VoIP services. All that required is to just spend a little extra money on the hardware, but no service plan is needed.

That plan gives you no advantage (except spending more money) over the easier option of directing your 911 calls to a non-911 emergency number as described in other posts.  The flaw in both that approach and your suggested approach is the absence of E911 capability - where the emergency dispatcher is given the address of the calling party, which provides system capability to auto locate the nearest responding units and provide GPS guided directions to them. 

I could have taken the non-911 emergency number route, but for $1.50 per month via Callcentric (and $1.50 setup), is it really worth risking someone's life if they can't give the emergency operator the proper location?  I know that if my in-laws were visiting they don't have a clue. 

In my opinion, removing a landline from an elderly person is foolhardy and not worth saving the money.  Cutting their service to the bare minimum, and providing calling via the OBi and GV or other services, is the best way to go if saving money is your goal.

Two things. One what is the present status on GPS equiped cell phones and E911? The other is I can see the cell phone as a backup for both land-line and internet going out.  Rare but if one wants to be absolutely certain...
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