Google Voice XMPP Alternative

google-voice-drops-xmpp

I previously wrote a post about my home phone setup and how I moved away from paying Comcast for monthly phone service to a free solution with Google Voice using an Obihai VoIP adapter.

This was possible because Google supported  XMPP,  which enabled connectivity to the Google Voice website without logging in. This solution worked perfectly and served me well for a year and a half. Unfortunately, Google has decided to end support for XMPP on May 15, 2014.

Obihai listed some Voip alternatives on their blog that would support  their adapters after the GV shutoff. I checked out most of the providers on their list. I wanted something that would be easy to configure and inexpensive.

Here are some of the listed services that I could have transitioned to and kept using my Obihai adapter:

I ended up choosing  Vestalink (which is NOT listed above) and opted for the  Residential Lite BYOD plan (bring your own device – since I already have the VoIP adapter). While not free, it’s pretty inexpensive at $25 a year. Compared to the $30 per month I paid Comcast, it’s still a heck of a deal. The plan includes 500 minutes of local and nationwide calling – more than enough for my usage needs. Setting up my adapter was easy as Vestalink has a utility that configures the device automatically. I was up and running in a few minutes without any fuss.

I’ve been forwarding my number for the time being rather than porting my number over from Google right away.  So far the service has been perfect, so I’ll probably start the porting process soon. The porting cost is only $10 which is a bargain.

In a few months, I’ll write a follow up post / review of the Vestalink service and my ongoing experience with it .

—   UPDATE  –  11/21/2014   —

Vestalink is currently running a Black Friday special offering
40% off any plan using the code blackfriday!

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34 thoughts on “Google Voice XMPP Alternative

  1. Hey Tyler,

    Doe the Vestalink Residential BYOD Lite plan allow you to block numbers like Google Voice? That is one feature I’m going to have a hard time giving up!

    MAX

    1. It does support number blocking. That feature was very important to me as well!
      GV doesn’t have a bulk export for blocked numbers, so I combed through my blocked numbers, copied them into a csv file and then imported into Vestalink in bulk.

  2. I was checking the vestalink site, seems like a cost effective and good replacement after Google disables XMPP support for third parties!!!

    I see they have a free app for iOS and/or Android, does someone knows if the service can be used entirely on the smartphone skipping buying Obihai/Obi adapters?

    No entry for this question on the help section.

    Thanks!

    1. That’s a good question that I don’t know the answer to. I would ping there support dept. Reply back with what you find out.I’m interested to know this as well.

  3. Tyler – it has been about 3+ weeks since you switched to Vestalink. Can you please share your experience on the call quality? The 24.99 and other offers end on 3/31. Thanks

    1. Service has been great so far. Call quality has been very good and I don’t have the slight latency that I would often experience with my Google Voice setup. I went ahead and ported our number over, so I am fully on board. I got an email the other day with a list of new features that they are about to put in beta.

  4. 500 minutes may be enough for you, but not for me. Any easy to use, inexpensive recommendations for those of use who spend a lot of time on the phone?

      1. 500 minutes go fast – as minutes are used towards both inbound and outbound calls. You can also buy extra minutes that roll over month to month.

        1. We use our mobile phones to make most calls. I think last month we used 200 minutes on VL, and that was a lot for us.

  5. Bought a GVMate a couple of weeks ago that will continue to work with Google Voice without XMPP and sold my Obi100 on Ebay. Plugged it into my old Windows XP laptop that I will probably dedicate to it when I upgrade my laptop next month. Works just fine and it was really easy to set up. Just plugged it in and signed in using the Gmail account I used with my Obi100. I like getting the caller name on my phone display that I didn’t get using the Obi100 with Google Voice for whatever reason.

    1. Needing to connect it to computer would be a deal breaker for me. Sounds like it’s good deal if you don’t mind that.

  6. Just switched to Vestalink as well and found the Obi programming tool a dream to use. I am forwarding my GV number at the moment which is working fine but will consider porting. How has the voicemail transcription been since you ported? That is my main reason for hesitating and staying on GV. I hate listening to VM – I only want to read them.

    1. The voice transcription is about the same as GV in my experience. Most of the time, we use a home answering machine, so we bypass the vm on Vestalink.

  7. I signed up for 1 year service. Then I ported my number to Vestalink. And my phone has NOT worked since then. They said ‘technical support’ is given to those who buy their ‘preprovisioned equipment,. I got one. Still I cannot make or get calls. Still no technical support.

    1. That’s not good, George. Sorry to hear that. I haven’t needed to utilize technical support other than an email question about porting. Please report back here when things get sorted out. I don’t have their provisioned equipment, but I still expect support if the service is not working.

  8. Just curious why port your GV number over? I mean the GV service offered a lot of cool features even before the Obi device solution came along. Simultaneous ringing of all my phones and line-specific scheduling, voicemail transcription, caller blocking, integration with my Gmail account and contacts, call recording, multiple greetings by contact group, call screening with listen-in feature, mid-call transfer, etc. In other words, I had a GV “GrandCentral” number long before the Obi device solution came along and wouldn’t drop all that functionality now just because the Obi device will stop working.

    So, I’m all for getting a new number from Vestalink, set the new number up in my GV settings, and take advantage of the Vestalink number spoofing feature which makes it look like all my outbound calls are coming from the GV number just like before.

    That way I keep all my current GV functionality and pay Vestalink a reasonable price to overcome the issue off GV not working directly with my Obi device. And if I ever have an issue with Vestalink, I’ll just switch Voip providers and I won’t have to worry about porting or anything.

    Am I missing something here?

    1. I was forwarding it and spoofing it at Vestalink. This is our home phone, and we did not use all of the features that you mention about GV. The one thing we did need is to use our home answering machine, my wife and son don’t want to log into GV to get messages.

      Unfortunately, GV voicemail always picked up before our machine would do the the timing involved in the forward. And since you can’t disable voicemail on GV, I decided to port the number over. If it weren’t for that, I would have probably continued to forward the number.

  9. Thanks for all of the good information. I have GV and an Obi and have been trying to decide what I will do after May 15. My current thought is to go with Versalink and forward my GV to the Versalink. I would want to stay in that configuration for 6 to 12 months and then decide if I want to start giving out my Versalink number or stick with transferring GV number. In that time there may be new devices that support GV, who know maybe Obi will come out with a new device. Do you think this is a reasonable plan?

    Also, do you know how much delay will get added by adding the Versalink service? Calls to my GV number would then have to go through GV thenVersalink and then to my Obi.

    Thanks for your great research.

    1. There is some lag and i decided to port out from GV but that didn’t go well. It has been over 2 weeks and calls still go to GV. Google support (Bluescat account on the forum) thinks that Vestalink screwed up things on their end. Vestalink support hasn’t been able to help so far. Sigh!

  10. is Vestalink working reliably still for you ? I am planning to switch out of GV and pick another VOIP provider. Trying to decide between VestaLink and phone power.

      1. Yup, same here – except 2 issues: I can’t forward calls from GV and port out from GV got messed up due to a typo and not sure whose number got ported to me under Vestalink.

    1. Glad the post helped. Keep in touch and report back how it works out for you. Also, VL has E911. Maybe that will save you some money not needing two VoIP accounts.

  11. If you’re using it with an ATA (not a PBX) voip.ms is a good option as it lets you keep a lot of control (blocked numbers, etc.)

    Also, it’s pretty cheap: US DID 99 cents a month, one cent per minute US/CA talk time, US numbers port free (temp offer).
    If you’re using a VOIP softphone on your mobile to save minutes, voip.ms supports IAX. IAX works better behind someone else’s firewall than SIP so it’s more likely to work at a bookstore, coffee chop, library, etc. (and no, I don’t talk on the phone in libraries).

  12. I also went with Vestalink and kept my GV number that now forwards to my Vestalink number and my cell phone. In addition I have the free OBIAPP for windows (which connects to OBITALK) and free 3CXPhone for windows running on my laptop. So if I am traveling and have wifi access but no cellphone access (it does happen) or out of cellphone minutes, I can use my laptop to make phone calls thru my home OBI device. I also set up my son so that he could access my OBI device (via OBIAPP and 3CXPhone) from his laptop at his home over the internet and make calls thru it. (Not for the faint of heart, much trial and error involved). Since it is May 14th, I’ll wait a couple more days and make sure everything still works.

  13. Many thanks Tyler. I have been dreading the switchover—which is why I waited until 2 days AFTER the deadline to take action—-until I stumbled across your posting. The switchover to Vestalink was a breeze once I remembered the username/password combo for my OBi110 device.

    1. Glad it helped, Bobby. I’ve been going for 3 months now and it has been perfect. Check back in a few months and post how it’s working out for you.

  14. On May 16th at 6 pm my google voice connection disconnected in the middle of a phone call to Apple. It was actually my Charter internet connection failing. I put it back on 3 times using the Charter recommended procedures. Each time I got two or three successful pings, then the connection failed again. Thinking the Obihai module connection may have been the trouble, I removed it, and was able to restore the internet easily. I relied on google voice without xmpp and the module for a couple days. Then on Sunday night, the 18th, I got an email from ObiHai that said the xmpp connection was still working. So I hooked it back up and it was. It still is. I’m going to keep using it until it really stops. Meanwhile, a close reading of online techie columnists who have relationships with google suggest Google has been unable to meet its own deadline , May 15, for having Hangouts up and running with replacement software to either run the Obi modules, or offer new devices. Google already has cellphones which have incorporated xmpp allowing free phone calls. But there appear to be plans to run a successor to the free Obi Hai connection, but to monetize the phone by charging a small amount, possibly continuing to charge nothing, or a variations between the two. Also, Google probably wants to run the phone system cheaper than it ran these past 3 years. I’ve read either that the Google Phone had 3 million users or 300,000 I can’t recall which. I’m going to hang on until Google really drops xmpp support and see what turns up for hangouts.

  15. I have subscribed to vestalink, ported google voice #, and after initial setup issues, have not had any problems with my obi.. so far, no lag noted at all , but had those issues with google voice.

    Had responsive email support, except weekends.

  16. I still am so in the dark with how all of this works, I don’t quite understand all the technical lingo, the only “Obi” I know is Obi-Wan Kenobi. XMPP? Like I said I am the dark, wish there was a guide for dummies (aka me) that basically spelled it out step-by-step as if talking to a five year old so I could follow it and get rid of Comcast home phone service.

    I did take the first baby step and get a cheap pre-paid cell phone on Verizon (Samsung Gusto 2 which was $19.99 at Staples) which I have not opened yet and bought a device on Amazon that Tyler had mentioned which is called the Obi-100 VoIP Telephone Adapter. Beyond that I have not taken the second step.

    Help?

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