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An Open Letter to Google: Don’t Do It!

With an obscure post on its support forum, Google has quietly announced that it will discontinue Google Voice support for XMPP on June 18. According to Obihai1 insiders, it will be replaced with a Google-proprietary version of the SIP protocol to which only Obihai has been provided access despite claims from Google staff (without documentation) that the "new Google Voice" will be "standards-compliant" and "should work with many third party solutions."

July 20 Update: Google did it anyway and pulled the plug on their XMPP implementation of Google Voice. See this Nerd Vittles tutorial for the latest fixes for Asterisk without purchasing any new hardware.

If you loved New Coke, this should be a hit. You may recall that Google has attempted similar switcharoos previously only to retreat at the last moment and continue support for "Legacy Google Voice" a.k.a. Google Chat which works with Asterisk® and currently looks like this:

If you happen to have an Obi 200 series device and revisit the same Google Voice Legacy Settings dialog today, what you will now see looks something like this. In addition to the disappearance of the Google Chat option, note the proprietary FQDN in the SIP URI as well as the MAC address accompanying the specific OBi hardware device designation. That’s three clear indicators that this new "service" was engineered to be anything but open.

The important point here is that all existing Google Voice XMPP connections through Asterisk, pygooglevoice, 3CX, OBi 100-series devices, and the Simonics SIP/GV gateway will fail beginning June 18. In its place, we get a new (proprietary) monopoly courtesy of Google and Obihai/Polycom. Can this change? Of course. What are the chances? Not likely. They’re already rolling it out to OBi hardware. And, if you happen to be one of the millions of Asterisk users that has depended upon Google Voice for communications, too bad for you. In fact, when we posted comments on both the Google Voice and Obihai forums warning of the upheaval this would cause in the VoIP community, both comments were promptly removed. So much for transparency and standards compliance. Wouldn’t you think Google would have the decency to at least alert Google Voice users through their registered email addresses that the service was being discontinued after users have relied upon it for almost ten years? Apparently not. A SIP FQDN that begins with a corporate name is not a good sign. It’s anything but standards-compliant. Quoting one of the OBi shills, "Google isn’t obligated to support anything else." And then there’s this from a moderator on the Google Forum:

So where do we go from here? There are several options. None of them are particularly appealing. First, you can port out your Google Voice number to another provider. You’ve got about five weeks to get it done. Second, you can continue to use the existing Google Voice Settings menu (so far) to forward incoming calls to a DID or phone number that you already own. What you lose is the ability to make outbound calls using that Google Voice trunk. Third, you can purchase an OBi 200-series ATA and set up a SIP trunk to process calls from the OBi200 in much the same way that you do today. Aside from the $50 bounty, the only other wrinkle that we’ve found is that FreePBX® currently does not support DIDs of over 50 characters (as are used with the new GV DIDs) so you will need to configure a default inbound route to process incoming calls from your OBi devices or apply the patch that we’ll provide for Incredible PBX® platforms. It should also work with generic FreePBX setups.

We have mixed emotions about documenting this OBi 200-series trunk setup. Other sites have pulled their tutorials arguing that we should boycott Polycom and Obihai devices as well as Google Voice until Google cleans up its act. After all, Polycom has worked with Google for months to design and build this new proprietary setup. It wasn’t an accident. On the other hand, we have championed Google Voice since its inception, and thousands of our followers depend upon Google Voice for their production PBXs. So we’re holding our nose in documenting the setup here. In the meantime, we hope each of you will write and post scathing comments about Google Voice and publish them widely. Do it today! Bad publicity is probably the only thing that will prompt Google to change directions at this juncture.

Continue Reading: Creating an OBi200 Google Voice Trunk to Use with Asterisk

Originally published: Saturday, May 12, 2018

  1. In case you didn’t know, Obihai recently sold out to Polycom. []


  1. This is sad news. It will certainly put the kibosh on people like me who have multiple gv numbers. Would have to buy mutiple obi devices. Each obi can maybe accomodate 2 gv accounts? Maybe that is the objective, to prevent people from using up too many of their phone numbers.

  2. Not this again! I’m using simonics for my google to sip configuration…. Google please don’t do this.

  3. So you had a good ride, and it was free.. Then it came to an end. Oh well.

    Seriously people – there’s a ton of providers out there offering numbers for a dollar a month and calls for a cent a minute, give or take. For the vast majority of people, this shouldn’t be an issue, surely?

  4. Latest obi tactic: force feeding you a firmware update if you have obitalk service enabled and firmware updates disabled.

  5. I was worried something like this would eventually happen and it’s why I chose to use a paid service like voip.ms. I already ported one of my GV numbers to voip.ms and I’ll probably port my other one soon and just completely close the GV account.

    Thanks to the IBM Watson STT tutorial on nerdvittles, I also don’t need GV for voicemail transcription!

    I agree with Paul C. here. There are non-free options that are very cheap/affordable for most people.

  6. "Seriously people – there’s a ton of providers out there offering numbers for a dollar a month and calls for a cent a minute, give or take. For the vast majority of people, this shouldn’t be an issue, surely?"

    A dollar a month ain’t free. Not the same, guy.

  7. Okay, so the strange news for me is that June 18 has passed (it is currently June 25) and GV (Motif) is still working on my IncrediblePBX 13-13 setup. The only change I’ve noticed is that when a system reboot is performed, I will not receive any incoming calls until I place one (1) outbound call, which will fail, then subsequent outgoing and incoming calls work perfectly. Does this mean that XMPP support is not OFFICIALLY ended?

    [WM: Not yet. 🙂 ]

  8. I’m getting rid of all things goolge. Went thru this BS a while back when they went to using XMPP and now this. Now we are told that we must use a special provider in order for our systems to continue working. We are told they are using sip protocol, but won’t share the information on what the parameters are to connect, even though their nummy’s say that we should check with our third party vendors on how to connect to google voice from now on….. ya right, that ain’t happening either. I am under the firm belief that google is too big for its britches, that’s run by a bunch of inconsiderate self absorbed millenials who couldn’t give a crap about its current or future customers. No doubt we will hear in a year or two that google bought out this company (ObiTalk). Sad for google. And for those that say there are plenty of "cheap VoIp providers out there….. I’ve used plenty of them over the years….and in the long term….they are cheap all right…on service but not cost. Other than the transfer to XMPP I’ve had no issues with google voice till today. I received no notice in my emails, on my phone messaging systems or on my google voicemail, I just got up this morning and my asterisk server kept telling me that "the call couldn’t be completed please try your call later"… even though my server shows that the system is registered on google’s system…the calls wouldn’t go thru. Had I not started researching for a problem solver I would have never known that XMPP was going away June 18, 2018. If this is the way they are going to do business, I don’t want to be part of anything google.

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