Read this before you pay $10 to Obihai for support

 

Notice
EDIT (May, 2018): FreePBX and Asterisk users that wish to continue using Google Voice after Google drops XMPP support should go here: How to use Google Voice with FreePBX and Asterisk without using XMPP or buying new hardware.

As you may be aware, I removed all of the Obihai-related articles on this blog in protest of Obihai’s decision to attempt to charge users an additional $10 support fee in order to get firmware updates, and I no longer recommend Obihai devices. However, if you previously purchased an Obihai and find that you need to upgrade the firmware in order to continue using Google Voice, this Reddit thread explains how to do it without paying the $10. But before you do anything else, first try dialing * * * 6 from a phone that’s connected to your Obihai device, since you might be able to upgrade the firmware that way (although that’s not likely if you are still using username and password authentication for Google Voice). If that doesn’t work, try the instructions found here:

Read this before you pay $10 to Obihai for support (Reddit)
(Also posted at DSLReports: *** READ THIS before you pay $10 to Obihai for support ***)

The first post in the thread, from Reddit user Mango123456, reads as follows:

Obihai’s $10 support fee is optional. If you wish to avoid it, you can update your firmware manually to save the $10 support fee. This solves the May 2016 problem of Google Voice not working on OBi100/OBi110.

1a) If you have an OBi100/OBi110, follow the directions to update your firmware manually. Thanks to taoman54, rchandra, yorktown, and others who contributed to this.

1b) If you have an OBi200/OBi202, you can download the latest version of the 2xx firmware here (thanks taoman54).

2) If you cannot manually update your firmware because you do not know your OBi ATA’s admin password, follow the directions to factory reset your OBi ATA.

Please note: the links http://fw.obihai.com/OBi-latest.fw http://fw.obihai.com/OBi2-latest.fw are not the latest versions any more. At the time of this post, they are builds 2872 and 5110 respectively.

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Note that if you are reading this article after May, 2016 there might be newer versions of the firmware available (particularly for the OBi 200 series models) but after you have installed the correct firmware from one of the above links, you should be able to get any later firmware updates by dialing * * * 6 from a phone connected to the Obihai device.

EDIT (January/May 2018): Obihai has completely dropped support for the OBi100 and OBi110 models, and at some point Google Voice connectivity stopped working for some users. If you have such a device, you MAY be able to get Google Voice connectivity working again with Crowdsourced updates for Obihai ATAs and IP Phones. I have NOT tested these personally, so have no idea how well they work – they may restore full Google Voice connectivity to your OBi100 or OBi110, or they may turn it into a paperweight (hopefully not the latter, but I just don’t know, and I take no responsibility if it doesn’t work as intended). Obviously in this case it would not be prudent to pay Obihai for support, since they do not support those models anymore in any case, and would prefer you just buy a newer model despite the fact that the old ones usually continue to work perfectly well. And buying a new unit from Obihai really isn’t a solution either, since you don’t know if or when they will come out with yet a newer model and drop support for the current models. For more current information about alternative firmware for Obihai devices, see the ObiHAI Obi100/Obi110 Firmware Mod Discussion and/or the Obihai OBi200/202/302 + OBi1022/1032/1062 firmware mods thread at DSLReports. FreePBX and Asterisk users that wish to continue using Google Voice after Google drops XMPP support should go here: How to use Google Voice with FreePBX and Asterisk without using XMPP or buying new hardware. (END EDIT.)

Why would you even need this? Well, the basic problem is that Google Voice (and all Google services really) have become very security-conscious lately, and if you or someone else tries to access your account in a way that Google doesn’t like, Google will force you to change your password, and your Obihai may stop working for Google Voice until you do. But once you change the password, the OBiTalk web configuration portal won’t allow you to change the Google Voice password on your Obihai device in the usual manner without paying the $10 extortion support fee to Obihai. There are two ways around that, one is to go into the Expert Configuration settings and change the password there (which doesn’t require payment, but the method for doing this might not be obvious to an Obihai user), and the other is to upgrade the Obihai firmware as described in the Reddit thread, in order to use oAuth authentication, which does not change if the Google account password changes. BUT, if you upgrade to oAuth you must to delete and recreate your Google Voice settings in the OBiTalk portal, but from then on you should not have any problems even if Google again requires you to change your password at some point in the future.

There are also persistent rumors, but they are still only rumors or more likely just speculation, that at some point Google Voice will stop allowing password authentication and force everyone to use oAuth, which would require the firmware update to be installed. However, that has not happened yet. Even if you aren’t ready to do a firmware upgrade now, you may want to download the firmware and save it someplace you can find it. You might want to do that just in case you ever do need to upgrade, and the links in that post are no longer working.

4 thoughts on “Read this before you pay $10 to Obihai for support

  1. Martin Rauchwerk

    I had a related problem with the OBi100 in March 2016 I had to change my google password when logging into google away from home and accidentally failing the security questions. The OBi100 stopped working and I could not figure out how to change to the new google Voice password. The OBi site said I had to pay the $10 to get expert support in order to change the password so I did. It upgraded the FW on my OBi100 but when I tried it, there was no dial tone for the phone. When a call came in the LED flashed but the phone would not ring. I asked the OBi expert service and they said there was a fatal error with my OBi100 hardware and I would have to buy a new OBi200. They also returned the $10 fee.

    I thought it was the SW upgrade that caused the problem but from your post it seems like I was a special case. Have you heard of this before?

    Reply
    1. Admin Post author

      Well, I will say that a friend once had a firmware upgrade brick an OBi202 but fortunately it was still under warranty, so they replaced it. I’m glad they at least refunded your $10 but it seems like in a small percentage of cases, something goes wrong during an upgrade and there is no easy way to recover. And if the device is out of warranty, Obihai will just tell you that you need to buy a new one. Well if that happened to me now, and I didn’t have an older Linksys PAP2 tucked away, I’d buy a new one all right, but it wouldn’t be an Obihai, mainly due to their trying to charge people $10 just to upgrade their firmware. Maybe it would be a Grandstream or a Cisco, but it wouldn’t be an Obihai. For Google Voice connectivity I’d either run Raspbx on a Raspberry Pi, or if I didn’t want to bother with that, I’d just pay the small one time fee to use the Simon Telephonics Google Voice Gateway. Don’t get me wrong, Obihais seem like pretty good devices when they work right, but unfortunately they don’t always work right and are in my opinion perhaps not as reliable as some other models. It’s particularly annoying when they decide to spontaneously reboot on you during a call.

      Reply
    1. Admin Post author

      That article also applies to the OBi110, but it is not the ONLY way. Another option is to set up your own PBX and use that as a gateway between your VoIP adapter (be it an OBi100/OBi110 or a non-Obihai VoIP adapter that supports the SIP protocol) and Google Voice. For many users the easiest way to do this would be to use a Raspberry Pi and either install RasPBX or use RonR’s instructions to install FreePBX and Asterisk on a Raspberry Pi (I think only RonR’s setup allows the use of oAuth authentication for Google Voice, but don’t quote me on that). Using a Raspberry Pi is the more costly approach, both in terms of equipment and power consumption, but if you’re always wanted your own PBX anyway then that might be another way to go. But for most users, Bill Simon’s gateway would be the easiest and least expensive approach.

      If you’d prefer to install a minimal PBX simply to act as a Google Voice gateway, see this thread about using Yate. One advantage to using Yate is that it is cross-platform; you can see all the versions available on their download page.

      Do keep in mind that when you are using someone else’s gateway, you are relying on that person to continue to make the service available. I have no reason to believe that Bill has any plans to discontinue his gateway, but just be aware that it probably will go away someday, and we just hope that “someday” is in the fairly distant future (and Google Voice itself might go away before then, who knows?). I’m not trying to discourage anyone from using Bill’s gateway, but some people might choose to build their own gateway because they don’t want to be reliant on someone else, and they don’t mind the learning curve involved in setting up your own PBX.

      In any case I do NOT recommend purchasing a newer Obihai device unless you need some specific feature that it offers, because there are no guarantees that Obihai won’t release even newer models and then let the current OBi20X series become obsolete the next time Google changes something. If they’ve done this once (arbitrarily declaring their older VoIP adapters obsolete, and not issuing new firmware updates for them) then there’s a pretty good chance they might do it again down the road.

      Reply

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