PhoneGnome has gone 2.0
It’s been a while since I’ve seen something new from my friends at PhoneGnome, but they’ve come up with a doozy, just in time for the holidays.
For those who don’t know what PhoneGnome is, basically it is a service that allows you to continue to use your normal phone line and give it features those people who use VoIP have, but without the end user having to change anything. Historically, it required the purchase of a hardware device (namely a Linksys SPA-3000 with a PhoneGnome badge on it). This hardware device simply plugs in between your telephone handset and your telephone line. You continue to use your phone line as before in the same way you have always used it. And you have these cool, extra features too. But you also have the reliability of your local phone service in case your Internet goes down or you need to call 911.
Up until recently, to use PhoneGnome, you needed to buy a PhoneGnome device. As of now, anyone can sign up with PhoneGnome. You don’t have to have any special hardware. You can just use a connection to the web and your existing landline phone and get benefits. Certainly not all of the benefits you might get from purchasing a PhoneGnome, which by the way is now cheaper at a new low price of $99.99. However, it’s even cheaper with the special limited offer where you can get a PhoneGnome for $59.99!
So what do you get for free? Quite a lot, actually:
- The ability to receive calls from other PhoneGnome subscribers without the PhoneGnome subscriber paying for it. (At least this is how I think it works, though my current experience suggests otherwise. I’ll clarify this with PhoneGnome support and update this later.)
- The ability to initiate calls to other PhoneGnome subscribers, or any other connected VoIP service. For example, I was logged into an account I created for my mobile phone and typed in **39366868 into the number box and hit the Call button. This sent a call to my mobile phone and then connected me via Free World Dialup (**393) to Voxilla (66868 on FWD).
- The ability to make long distance calls using an Internet Telephony Service Provider. This requires an account on such a provider and that the information is configured into your My PhoneGnome portal. The call is initiated on the web as above. Without an ITSP, calls to non-free destinations will fail.
- The ability to use a SIP client in order to make and receive calls. You can use the provided Windows SoftPhone, any other configurable SoftPhone, or any SIP-based analog terminal adapter.
- If you have a Sipura/Linksys SPA-3000 lying around, or you buy one off eBay, you can get it provisioned to PhoneGnome and suddenly, you have access to the same functionality as if you bought a PhoneGnome device.
There is also one additional feature being offered as a free trial right now, which does require a hardware device attached to your service. It is a voice activated dialing feature that replaces the standard dial tone. When activated, you are greeted with a voice that asks you to speak a name in your address book. What it doesn’t tell you is that you can also speak a phone number. And it will dial it as if you pushed the buttons on the keypad (which, of course you can also do if you prefer). The service is powered by TellMe and it’s something I’m definitely going to play with.
This is definitely more than a facelift and it will be interesting to see how it all plays out.