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.

Various parts of this article have been edited numerous times throughout 2018 to reflect recent changes.

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. Since mid-2018 there is simply no way to get older OBi100 or OBi110 devices to work with Google Voice, since Google no longer supports the XMPP protocol that those devices used, so if you own one of those devices there is no reason to upgrade the firmware or pay Obihai for continued support, which they may not even offer on those models anymore. Those devices will still continue to work fine with anything that uses standard SIP protocol, which is to say, almost any VoIP service EXCEPT Google Voice. They also work perfectly fine for extensions on a FreePBX/Asterisk based system, or any other SIP-based software PBX.

However, if you previously purchased a newer Obihai (Obi200 or OBi202 or later) 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. For example, here is a link to a newer firmware version that apparently worked for OBi200 and OBi202 models in late 2018 (I found this link in a blog post linked on Reddit: How to use an Obihai 200 series VoIP device as a gateway between Google Voice and FreePBX and I have not tested it in any way, so use at your own risk, however the link does point to the official fw.obihai.com download site and does at least appear to download Obihai firmware).

I have also read reports of Obihai users getting new firmware if they completely removed their device from the Obitalk portal (as they would if they were going to sell the device), then did a factory reset on the device itself, and then added it back to their account in the Obitalk portal as if it were a newly-purchased device. However I cannot guarantee that will work, and you would lose your existing configuration by doing this. You will know that you have the latest firmware if it says Polycom in the upper corner, where the Obihai brand was formerly located.

If you have an older OBi100 and OBi110 model, you MAY for some reason have some interest in Crowdsourced updates for Obihai ATAs and IP Phones. I have NOT tested these personally, and I take no responsibility if they don’t work as intended. Whether you stay with the original Obihai firmware or try the modded firmware, those older devices usually continue to work perfectly well for anything other than Google Voice. However, I don’t really see buying a new unit from Obihai as a solution to restoring Google Voice connectivity, 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 now that Google has dropped XMPP support should go here: How to use Google Voice with FreePBX and Asterisk without using XMPP or buying new hardware.

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

  1. 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?

    1. 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.

    1. 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.

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