A Sipura in Gnome’s Clothing
Let me take apart what “features” they are offering (points taken from Phone Gnome’s website):
* **Make FREE calls, using your normal phone and without switching your phone service**: If you configure your SPA-3000 correctly, you can do this very easily. You can set up the dial plan of a SPA-3000 so that certain calls are routed over the PSTN port. You can also receive calls on your SPA-3000 from the PSTN line as well. * **Get the lowest Internet rates for international and/or long distance calls to plain phones, using your existing home phone and without the hassle of getting a new phone number or switching your number to a new service**: Sounds like call routing, which again can be accomplished by the SPA-3000′s dial plan. * **Give your current phone service a kick with advanced capabilities you can’t even get from the phone company, like voicemail-to-email, online phone book with click-to-dial, and more, all included FREE with your one-time purchase of PhoneGnome**: This is where the “service” part comes in. The SPA-3000 can route calls after a certain number of rings to a SIP voicemail box. Voicemail to email, online phone book, and click-to-dial all have to be provided with the “service.” My guess is in order to do click-to-call they have to have some knowledge about the customer’s SIP credentials. To further “mask” the fact that they’re using their PSTN line, there’s always CallerID spoofing. * **Nothing new to learn. Use your ordinary telephone and dial ordinary phone numbers. PhoneGnome seamlessly ties together Internet calling and features with your existing home phone service. FREE calling, low Internet long distance rates, and your old-fashioned normal calls all on the same phone.**: More advanced call routing, again all possible with the SPA-3000. * **Retain 911 and the comfort of knowing your phone will work when the power goes out and when the internet is down**: The SPA-3000 has a nifty feature that causes a hard cutover to the PSTN line when the power is removed. In essence, the FXS port (where you plug your telephone in) becomes “hard-wired” to the FXO port (where you plug your PSTN line in). When the power is restored, the connection is removed. Unless you’re on a call when that happens, and then the SPA-3000 will graciously wait until you’re off the phone. * **No obligations, No risk, full-moneyback guarantee**: My first question: will they unlock the SPA-3000 when you want to terminate service with them? Aswath sort of [asks this question] too, but he talks about the redefinition of the term “unlocked.” Again, it’d be interesting to see if they do, in fact, actually “unlock” the SPA-3000 when you decide you’re done with PhoneGnome.</ol>
I am curious how they route calls between other PhoneGnome members if one person picks, say, InPhonex and the other picks Nikotel for their outbound calling. Like I mentioned above, I’m guessing they know the SIP credentials and use them accordingly, spoofing CallerID as needed.