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Summary:

Analog Telephone Adapter (ATA) has been a common sight when it comes to VoIP services. The do-hickey that connects to your broadband connection on one end and an old fashioned phone handset on the other, has been the only constant in the fast changing voice over […]

Analog Telephone Adapter (ATA) has been a common sight when it comes to VoIP services. The do-hickey that connects to your broadband connection on one end and an old fashioned phone handset on the other, has been the only constant in the fast changing voice over the internet business. I have often said that we will soon see the end of ATA whose functionality will be subsumed either into new fangled WiFi Phone handsets or in other devices such as the set-top boxes. Well, San Francisco-based TelEvolution, might have on its hands the next evolution of ATA, (I like to call super ATA) PhoneGnome.

phonegnomeThe device, which is expected to sell for about $120-a-pop, is creation of David Beckemeyer, aka Mr. Blog. The former CTO and co-founder of Earthlink has created a device that marries the PSTN comfort with VoIP goodness. Let me explain. The box that is twice the size of a Dunhill packet, has two input ports – one that connections to your LAN (and broadband) while the other connects to the PSTN network. On the out side you have a port that connects to a traditional phone handset (including a wireless phone unit.) It is actually a clever idea.

Since most of us are forced to keep a PSTN line (either for DSL or for 911) purposes, the device lets us leverage a connection we are already paying for. But the masterstroke of the device is that it allows you to connect to SIP enabled networks. You can go a web-page and create a list of your SIP contacts, and using the web-page you can do one click calls to others who use SIP clients such as The Gizmo Project or FWD. David explained to me that this is an adjunct (VoIP) service to your PSTN.

phonegnomeUnlike ordinary broadband phone services, PhoneGnome is an appliance that one buys and owns, with no monthly fees, no subscription, and no activation. Even though there is no subscription or sign-up process required at all, PhoneGnome is fully plug and play. You go to PhoneGnome website, and there select a long distance provider or providers. At the same time you can enter the information for all your contacts that have SIP addresses. You can simply click and call these folks, regardless of what SIP service/client/device they use.

But the best part about the gizmo is that, when you try and outgoing call, it basically uses your selection of service provider to place that outgoing call. For someone else with a PhoneGnome to call you for free. They would not have to dial any different number or address. For instance, if my # is 415-555-1212, (and I have PhoneGnome), as a PhoneGnome user, you call 415.555.1212. In case I don’t have PhoneGnome, your call will get routed over the PSTN. On this website, my.phonegnome.com website, PhoneGnome can select a provider for national long-distance, international calls, or both, and select separate providers and plans for each.

David points out that Vonage made it easy to make calls using real phones and regular phone numbers. Skype allowed users to make really FREE calls, but using a computer instead of phones. After Skype, VoIP products could be divided into two kinds: Vonage and Vonage-like services and Skype or Skype-like services. PhoneGnome in many ways takes best of both, and combines it with real world (PSTN).

  1. Early Look at PhoneGnome

    Om talks about a new VoIP adapter called PhoneGnome. Based on a quick look it seems to be an enhanced clone of Call-in-One adapter from SIPPhone. This device connects to PSTN and to broadband. With a standard phone connected to…

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  2. I don’t quite get it. Isn’t this basically the sipura SPA-3000 packaged with a sip to sip provider? I’ve been using mine with fwd and a few pstn terminators for a while now..

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  3. I don’t quite get it. Isn’t this basically a sipura SPA3k packaged with a sip to sip provider, or am I missing something?

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  4. om – the sipura 3000 has been doing this since last year!

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  5. Espen Fjogstad Sunday, July 17, 2005

    The Phonegnome looks to me like nothing but a Sipura SPA 3000 ( http://www.sipura.com/products/spa3000.htm )with a Phonegnome label on. Credit should be given where credit is due :-).

    That being said, the SPA3000 is an interesting device with lots of “toll bypass” opportunitites for those who are anyway forced to keep their PSTN line.

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  6. Folks since I don’t know about Sipura 3000 and its functions, I cannot talk about that. Thanks for the heads up – will totally look into it and will try and get back to david with clarifications as well.

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  7. You have to love the experts that know everything. The PhoneGnome is based on the SPA-3000 hardware platform, but trust me it is nothing like the same product. They serve totally different purposes. I will give Aunt Betsy an SPA-3000 and a PhoneGnome and she will find nothing similar about the two other than they both are in similar plastic cases.

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  8. It would be cool if PhoneGnome product allows you to connected to your PhoneGnome via your regular Bell land line and make VoIP based LD calls. So if I am away from my PhoneGnome and need to call my cousin in India I can call my home phone and it would connect to my PhoneGnome to place calls of the VoIP LD provider I have chosen, it would be like you own personal calling card service. This concept is very similar to what Motorola has done with their Motorola Messenger Modem (M3) http://www.motorola.com/softmodem/

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  9. Jasbir Kular Sunday, July 17, 2005

    The exact address of the Motorola product is http://www.motorola.com/softmodem/softmodem.htm

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