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TMCNet:  TELTUB + Google Voice = $5 Unlimited Calling to U.S. & Canada

[January 17, 2011]

TELTUB + Google Voice = $5 Unlimited Calling to U.S. & Canada

Originally posted on VoIP & Gadgets Blog, here: http://blog.tmcnet.com/blog/tom-keating/voip/teltub-google-voice-5-unlimited-calling-to-us-canada.asp.

TELTUB is offering unlimited free calling to the U.S. and Canada for $5/month. Their gHome product takes a user's Google Voice account and converts it into a SIP-based VoIP service which can then be used as a cheap home phone-line using a SIP analog telephony adaptor (ATA) and your broadband connection. Users can use their own standard VoIP adaptor or order a pre-configured one from TELTUB. Farid Fadaie, the founder of TELTUB sent me an ATA to try out their service.

Users can get gHome by registering on http://teltub.com/ghome and importing their Google Voice account with a one-click process. gHome includes all the great features of Google Voice, but they can also benefit from gHome's unique features including:

  • The ability to sign in gHome's website while on the call or after that to add pictures, documents, links and comments to the call. Furthermore, they will soon have the ability to share these objects with the person that they talk to in real-time.
  • Users will always have access to their call records and their attachments. The history can be organized and indexed to help classifying and referring to past conversations or subjects.
  • Users can access their account from Facebook or TELTUB's main site.
  • Advanced users have access to conference rooms, conference bridges with more than one participant, and can moderate their conference in real-time online.
Although gHome is $5 per month, users can try it free for one month. Excited to try out the service I decided to first test with a SIP softphone (Ekiga) before even receiving the ATA device. I registered on their website and connected my Facebook account so I could logon using that. Next, I registered my Google Voice account. I also added a phone number from their stock of DIDs and picked a number in Connecticut. Then I went to the Siptub app and defined a SIP password. Next, I launched Ekiga, a SIP softphone app and put in my SIP credentials. It instantly registered.

I made my first test phone call from Ekiga and dialed my cellphone number. The call connected and the call quality was great. The CallerID passed was the originating number and not my Google Voice number, which is important. I was also able to make an inbound call to my purchased DID number and answer it using Ekiga. Finally, I made a call to my Google Voice number. I have Google Voice pre-defined to call my iPhone. However, when I dialed my Google Voice number, both my iPhone and the Ekiga client rang roughly simultaneously. I was able to take the call with either and talk with no problems.

Thus, using TELTUB's service along with your Google Voice number, you get all the features of Google Voice, but also the ability to use any SIP device. Very cool stuff! smiley-cool You could just ignore the TELTUB DID if you want to use Google Voice's voicemail and transcription features.

While you are on the call you can attach notes and pictures in real-time to the call or after the call has ended. As shown here (click for larger view):
teltub-gosip-call-history.jpg

TELTUB plans to release a share feature so you can share this call record, while it's still active or once the call is done, with other people. This way all parties, i.e. you and the people whom you shared the call with, can interact with voice and media in the context of a call.

TELTUB has an advanced plan builder where you can drag and drop various apps and then configure which devices (iPhone, cell1, home landline) use that component. Below is a screenshot of it. Note the small SIP icon and iPhone squares below the Properties in the middle. In some instances, you can drag-and-drop these squares onto a certain section of the screen to add or remove it.(Click for Larger view):
teltub-gosip-advanced-plan-builder.jpg
                                Advanced Plan Builder

One  of the apps you can add is Voicemail if you prefer not to use Google Voice's voicemail. Another apps is World-Dial which is an outgoing application from TELTUB that allows users to make international calls with competitive rates.

One really cool app is Voiptimizer, which is an incoming application that allows any user to receive calls (on their iPhone, Android, or any other phone with data plan) without using any airtime minutes. All you need is any standard SIP softphone app. This application uses the data portion of a phone plan and will work over Wifi or 3G if your softphone supports it. Even coler, Voiptimizer is designed so he user can switch between VoIP call and standard phone call with a click of a button (* key) when the quality of the call drops.


Here's how they list the benefits:
  • Save an average of $180 a month when compared to an equivalent plan
  • Switch back and forth between VoIP or regular service when 3G or Wifi signal is poor.
  • The person whom you are speaking with will not feel the difference when you switch the line.
  • VoIP quality is much better than regular lines where there is a good Wifi connection. Avoid dropped calls when you have a good Wifi connection but not a good cell phone reception
  • Never look at the clock to see when your mobile “evening and weekends” plan will kick-in
  • Don’t hang up on your loved ones because you don’t have enough minutes
  • Take ALL your calls, don’t pick favorites between your friends and family
  • You don't need to buy an expensive plan from your carrier
iPhone support
They don't currently support a native iPhone app (still waiting on Apple approval), however they have a web-based (Safari) dialer you can use simply by visiting http://www.teltub.com/idialer. You can also bookmark this and add to your Home Screen. I tested this and it works pretty well. For instance, I dialed 1-203-852-6800 (TMC number) and then the iPhone pops up "1 (203) 660-4400" with Cancel/Call buttons. This number is my TELTUB DID number. When I clicked call it dialed my TELTUB DID number and then TELTUB routed the call through my Google Voice account to the TMC number I dialed. The CallerID displayed by the remote party is that of Google Voice (good) and not the TELTUB DID.

I asked Farid Fadaie about their back-end architecture when I said "Tell me a bit about your back-end architecture. Is it a bunch of Asterisk-based SIP servers or maybe OpenSIPS or OpenSER? Also, I’ve seen “recipes” for free calling leveraging Google Voice, such as this one: http://nerdvittles.com/?p=635. But it requires a customer-premised PBX, so more enterprise-oriented. Thoughts?"

He responded, "Our architecture is based on a modified version (via in-house development) of Asterisk that works in clusters. It provides high availability and linear scalability. As you mentioned there are ways to setup Google Voice to work with SIP. However, implementation of such solutions requires technical knowledge and third party services (DIDs). Technical (and potentially enterprise) users can mix and match services from various vendors, and potentially an onsite PBX, to gain what gHome offers. gHome provides ease of use (no technical knowledge is required) and service stability and reliability required for a home phone. Also, as you probably have noticed, TELTUB is an application based platform. Business users can use future telephony apps to have business-oriented solutions built on top of GoVo (extensions, conference bridge, etc)."

Conclusion:
I made several test calls using a SIP softphone app, but I plan on testing TELTUB with an ATA device for more real-world testing with lengthy phone calls at home to better judge the reliability and call quality. I will update this post with my thoughts in a month or so.

TELTUB is bridging web apps, social media/social networking, and telephony across the Internet. We've come a long way since proprietary "big iron" closed-source PBXs to open source PBXs and now web-based telephony. TELTUB is embracing the app model in telephony, as are others. ITEXPO, a leading show on VoIP, telephony and social media is just a few weeks away and I'm excited to see if there are other companies other there with similar solutions.

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