A bug introduced by programmers at Google disrupted inbound calling for me this week, along with other Google Voice users who use Obi products to make GV telephone calls, according to a post by top contributor Bluescat on the Google Voice forums this morning.
I use the Obi100, a small box that connects to your telephone and router to let you make toll-free telephone calls using your Google Voice number.
I use Google Voice as the master telephone number for my business, and the Obi lets me make and receive calls from my cordless desktop headset. As scheduled calls began coming in, it didn’t take long to figure out that something was horribly wrong. My headset remained silent. I could call out, but I could not hear or pick up incoming calls.
Fortunately, I had configured GV to also forward incoming calls to my mobile. But cellular reception is poor in my office, so as a workaround I forwarded incoming GV calls to a back up line in my office while I spent the next hour trying unsuccessfully to troubleshoot the problem. That’s the nice thing about GV: You can forward your GV telephone number to ring to as many other phone numbers as you like.
“I’ve been told that the Google engineering staff is working on this now. This wasn’t intentional. There was a bug that caused the Chat ‘phone’ to disappear off of the GV settings Web page. It’s estimated that this will be resolved today (Thursday, 1/29) some time — probably by EOD,” Bluescat posted.
For Obi to work you must forward your GV number to the “Chat phone” option that appears in your Google Voice phone settings page. It was that option, which suddenly disappeared from the GV settings screen, that created the problem.
Kudos to Bluescat for tracking this down. A fix can’t come soon enough. But I’ve also learned a valuable lesson about depending on free services to support my business – and having alternatives when my primary service goes down.
So, in addition to having a backup office line, I’m also beefing up my local Verizon cellular service with a Verizon Network Extender, a wireless box that acts like a cell tower in your home and routs your mobile calls to Verizon over the Internet. At $250 the box is expensive, but you can find them on eBay for about half price, and there’s no monthly fee from Verizon to use it.
Update: Computerworld Blogger JR Raphael (Android Power) tells me that his Obi still rings even though the Google Chat option disappeared from his GV settings. Apparently not all users are affected in the same way.