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Summary:

GrandCentral, the single-phone-number Web-based service launched last fall, is adding support for the free Gizmo Project Internet VoIP service, which may open up a whole new way to decrease spending on international or long-distance calling. Still in beta, the GrandCentral service is the latest entrant in […]

GrandCentral, the single-phone-number Web-based service launched last fall, is adding support for the free Gizmo Project Internet VoIP service, which may open up a whole new way to decrease spending on international or long-distance calling.

Still in beta, the GrandCentral service is the latest entrant in the often-attempted “single phone number” scheme. The Fremont, Calif.-based startup uses a combination of VoIP technology and softswitch-based applications to give users ways to tie multiple phone numbers, services (voice mail, etc.) and devices to a single inbound number.

Support for SipPhone’s free Gizmo service, scheduled to be announced Wednesday, is a unique twist, since it potentially could allow users to receive calls anywhere in the world where they have Internet connectivity for no additional charge.

According to GrandCentral, here’s how the new Gizmo feature works:

Starting today GrandCentral customers can now designate their free Gizmo Project profile ID (which appears like a 747 area code number in their Gizmo profile) as one of their destination numbers which will ring on their personal computers or select next generation Nokia dual mode Nseries mobile phone or Internet Tablet, whenever a call comes into their GrandCentral number.

So GrandCentral can direct inbound calls to a user’s Gizmo profile, making it an IP call of no additional cost anywhere the user has an Internet connection. GrandCentral CEO Craig Walker said Gizmo’s promise to offer free inbound calling from the PSTN made it ripe for exploitation by GrandCentral, and it may result in some lost revenue for Gizmo, which currently charges $35 to add a PSTN number to a free Gizmo account.

While the GrandCentral plan seems to allow users to circumvent that charge, if it gets popular it sounds like a possible win-for-all deal since Gizmo is fighting an uphill battle for acceptance against free-calling giant Skype. And since GrandCentral’s service is due to emerge out of its free beta period within the next few months, you’d still get dinged the cost of paying for GrandCentral (the company’s web site gives no information about eventual costs, but press reports have put the expected starting range around $10-15 per month).

While there was no formal deal between SipPhone and GrandCentral, Walker says engineers from the companies did work together to iron out bugs. He added that SipPhone’s adherence to standard SIP RFCs made the integration between Gizmo and GrandCentral a fairly smooth call. Walker said that free VoIP call support was an issue that came up repeatedly from the company’s current beta-test audience, which he says numbers in the “tens of thousands.”

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  1. Well, if we all would be using ENUM the deal between GrandCentral and Gizmo wouldn’t be big news. With ENUM I can already route my PSTN number to my Gizmo account. VoIP users that call this number and do an ENUM lookup can call me for free.

    Why bother for another number from GrandCentral?

    I can implement the same call routing features of GrandCentryl in my analog telephone adapter (ATA). I actually do. So whenever somebody calls my years old PSTN number I can let it ring wherever I want (for instance on my Gizmo Project soft phone or my mobile phone) and I can also filter the callers like GrandCentral offers.

    Why pay extra for a service which I can already use at no extra cost at home?

  2. Speedlinking VoIP News – 21 February 2007 – VoIP Monitor Wednesday, February 21, 2007

    […] Speedlinking VoIP News – 21 February 2007 GrandCentral is adding support for the free Gizmo Project Internet VoIP service scheduled to be announced later today. Jyve, a maker of Skype plug-ins aims to take on Google with it’s “ask engine”. Where searches provide a live chat, instant message or phone call from a person with expertise on the searched topic. Last but not least is yet another Verizon customer service horror story. It’s early so be sure to check back for the latest in VoIP news and hopefully I can expand on these stories more. […]

  3. GrandCentral adding Gizmo support: one number to rule them all…

    We’ve mentioned GrandCentral before, but in case you’re not familiar: it’s a phone service that provides you a single phone number. You then control when and where calls to that number get forwarded to, so that you can be at home, work, on a cell, e…

  4. This is great news – awesome addition by the GrandCentral folks!

  5. Markus,
    “Well, if we all would be using ENUM the deal between GrandCentral and Gizmo wouldn’t be big news.”
    Well i guess since we’re all NOT using ENUM, this is big news then, right?
    If we all would be talking Esperanto, communications would be easier too :-)
    Don’t want to sound negative but i could not help draw the analogy :-)
    I just love things easy that do not require a dictionary (like figuring out what ENUM even is) and you’ve got to give it to GrandCentral, this is a real sleek service
    Keith

  6. you’d still get dinged the cost of paying for GrandCentral (the company’s web site gives no information about eventual costs, but press reports have put the expected starting range around $10-15 per month

    If my understanding is correct, Grandcentral is going to offer this phone number and basic routing service for free. Atleast, this is my understanding from their website and blog. Can you then explain me the $10-15 price tag. is it for addons or for the basic service itself? If GC guys are hanging out here, consider clarifying this please.

  7. Markus,
    “Well, if we all would be using ENUM the deal
    between GrandCentral and Gizmo wouldn’t be big
    news.”
    Well i guess since we’re all NOT using ENUM, this
    is big news then, right?
    If we all would be talking Esperanto,
    communications would be easier too

    Mmmmmmmmhhhhhhhh, I understand your criticism to my words.

    But the point is that it’s totally easy to do an ENUM lookup before every call. SNOM VoIP phones do it automatically before they start the call. The VoIP providers could do it automatically before the VoIP call starts. Also they could enlist all their numbers in ENUM. The client wouldn’t even notice that ENUM is working in the background.

    It would just be all over IP and for free. But the VoIP providers don’t do it because the earn very well not doing ENUM and charge for calls that technically could be for free.

    I just love things easy that do not require a
    dictionary (like figuring out what ENUM even is)

    That would be possible if they would use ENUM. You wouldn’t even notice.

  8. Markus,

    The other thing you’re neglecting to give GrandCentral credit for is their rules processing. As one of the beta testers, I’ve found this to be the most powerful feature. I have groups of callers routed to particular phone numbers of mine, at particular times of the day, and can add new rules as new numbers enter my contact list very easily.

    Making that all acronym-free for the masses is where services like GrandCentral will shine.

  9. Markus,

    The other thing you’re neglecting to give
    GrandCentral credit for is their rules
    processing. As one of the beta testers, I’ve
    found this to be the most powerful feature. I
    have groups of callers routed to particular phone
    numbers of mine, at particular times of the day,
    and can add new rules as new numbers enter my
    contact list very easily.

    Making that all acronym-free for the masses is
    where services like GrandCentral will shine.

    Well, the newest versions of the Fritz!Box do this out of the box. No acronyms needed. Just some clicks in the browser.

    http://www.avm.de/en/Produkte/FRITZBox/index.html

    Incoming calls can be treated individually. You can for instance block unwanted calls or pass them to an answering machine. Friends and business partners can be redirected to a mobile phone, even if the call signal of the phone that’s connected to the Fritz!Box is switched off.

    I am using such a Fritz!Box at home. It’s connected between my old telephone and the DSL connection. So all my calls go for free or for very modest prices over the internet. I do the configuration in my browser and it’s very easy. You can see an example here:

    http://www.avm.de/de/Presse/Pressefotos/Fotos/AVM_Pressefoto_FRITZBox_Firmware_Upgrade.jpg

    In fact the Fritz!Box is an entire PBX and cost me only 30 Euros, because I bought it used. It can do everything that GrandCentral does. Even an ENUM lookup before every call. But this is a hidden function for which you have to tweak the Linux that runs on the box. The Fritz!Box is getting better and better with every firmware update.

  10. GrandCentral Gizmo Test Drive | TheVOIPGirl.com Thursday, February 22, 2007

    [...] post. For more reviews on GrandCentral and Gizmo, see Andy, Garrett Smith, Ken Camp, and Paul Kaputska. Filed under Gizmo, GrandCentral by [...]

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