Danville, Calif. — VoIP equipment maker TelEvolution announced an updated version of its PhoneGnome PSTN-to-VoIP device with new support for Skype calls.
The new “GnomeLink” capability, which will be available on new PhoneGnomes and as a firmware update on existing models, allows PhoneGnome users to send and receive Skype calls from their home phone.
The PhoneGnome connects an ordinary home phone with a broadband modem. Without subscribing to a VoIP service provider, PhoneGnome users can call other PhoneGnomers for free, can receive voice mails as e-mail attachments, establish online call logs and use find me/follow me dialing features.
The device enables “VoIP-like” features on traditional landline calls, without subscribing to a VoIP service. Using PhoneGnome, consumers keep their local numbers and place local or emergency calls over the PSTN line but can leverage VoIP’s cheap rates for long distance and international calls.
The device can also work with calling plans from third-party VoIP service providers such as Simple Telecom, Nikotel and InPhonex, among others, if consumers choose to use VoIP for long distance.
The Skype functionality works automatically on PCs running Skype, said David Beckemeyer, president, TelEvolution. PhoneGnome users can enter Skype contacts into their PhoneGnome phone books where they are automatically assigned speed dial codes. Using regular home phones, users can then dial over Skype to their Skype contacts. Entering a code lets users place calls to landline or mobile phones using SkypeOut.
Future iterations of the PhoneGnome will offer even more robust calling features, Beckemeyer noted.
The unit’s suggested retail price is $119.99.
The product is currently selling on e-commerce outlets like Amazon.com and Voxilla.com. TelEvolution trialed the initial PhoneGnome at Staples last year.
“The product did well in areas of high income and high broadband penetration, but not as well in lower income areas,” Beckemeyer said. “VoIP is still an early adopter market even if the consumers are becoming more mainstream.”