The PhoneBoy Blog

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A Sipura in Gnome’s Clothing

When I first saw this thing called Phone Gnome, my reaction was “hey, that’s a SPA-3000. It has a service associated with it, but it’s a SPA-3000.” The blogosphere gave it some press.

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][6] too, but he talks about the redefinition of the term &#8220;unlocked.&#8221; Again, it&#8217;d be interesting to see if they do, in fact, actually &#8220;unlock&#8221; the SPA-3000 when you decide you&#8217;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.

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