Friday, June 28, 2013

A Replacement for the Park Phone System

I know that many residents will just use their cell phone when the Park's phone system is gone (the system will be shut down on July 1), but I've elected to take a different approach.  My current cell phone plan (t-mobile) provides for only 100 voice minutes, but unlimited text and data.  I hate to lose this plan, as it's only $30 per month, so I make most of my phone calls utilizing my free Google Voice service (

With hardware from Obihai ( I'm able to use my existing telephones, but instead of connecting to a land line, they are connected to the internet.  Calls to Canada and the US are free (I expect Google will charge some day).  The cool thing about Google Voice is that I'm able to have incoming calls ring the Obihai-connected Phone, a computer, or a cell phone (or a land line if I still had one).  In fact, I can set them up to ring all three.  Outgoing calls are just like a regular phone line.  Many special features are available; the one I like best is call blocking.  If a telemarketer transmits his/her phone number, then I can tell Google Voice to, henceforth, block that number.  Or give that caller a "special" message.

The basic Obihai hardware is about $40 from Amazon.  Setup is easy, with the only caveat being that Google Voice requires a telephone number to set up their service.  So, you might need to borrow someones phone line for the initial setup if you don't currently have a cell phone.

Speed dial is available for 99 numbers and you'll have to get the phone numbers from your friends.  Maybe the park directory will be a phone book, as well.

We've used GV for a couple of years and find it very reliable and easy to use.  And, it's FREE (so far).

Call or email me if you have questions.