GizmoVoice – Who’s paying for the calls?

August 4, 2009

in Mobility, VoIP

I spent some time last week playing with GizmoVoice. It’s been written up in many places and its not hard to figure out. GizmoVoice is a mashup of GoogleVoice (now being rolled out) and Gizmo5. The Gizmo team have used GoogleVoice to achieve free calling from any SIP endpoint and then presents the call using your GoogleVoice number.

I’m not sure if it is just a stunt yet or the real thing. For a long time (Grand Central days) you have been able to route inbound Google Voice calls to any Gizmo5 Account. However outbound GV calls weren’t so simple. GizmoVoice makes it easy enough. Adjust a few account setting and you can start making GoogleVoice calls from your Gizmo Account. This makes all US calls free.

Now there seem to be a few caveats. Like the call duration has been limited to 3 minutes. Although I made a six minute one today and it wasn’t cut off. Call limits aren’t attractive. It’s also unclear if this initiative is a collaboration between the two companies or just a Gizmo5 initiative. Is there a bill to be paid? Lots of speculation in general.

One reason its interesting is it makes voice calls within the US free. So to make a comparison with a Comcast or Vonage like service I hooked up an ATA a Linksys PAP2T. Which is a fairly common unit. I found the Cisco instructions totally useless. However a Voxilla configuration utility and other info on forums after searching on dialing plans made it relatively painless. The result. I have a set of traditional landline phones now hooked to this ATA system and it appears unlimited US calls are available from it. There are no issues re call quality. For those in the household that still prefer a traditional handset this seems to be the solution. Vonage comcast like services $25/month. This solution with more features $0.

Now when it comes to bills costs or charges I am certainly a little confused. I also used my GizmoVoice line to call New Zealand twice as a test. The calls went straight through from my ATA. I spent at least 30 minutes on the call. I have no record anywhere of the call even being made! Maybe there is some delay in the billing system or how things are presented. So I’m left baffled. My guess is something still isn’t right. I do know my Gizmo account has a zero balance and the $1 credit on GoogleVoice hasn’t changed.

I haven’t seen a good business case for underwriting free calls yet. I’m not sure I want Google to really own my number anymore than anyone else. I really want to own my identity and CallerID. Ultimately this step to “free calling” will be replaced by “bridging contracts” between individuals. Now that numbers are effectively disintermediated from the carriers, and our directories have moved to Facebook and other networking services there is little reason to believe that this system is anything more than another indicator that the end for traditional calling systems is near.

Update. It works from France! However, access to the dial-through still seems to be sporadic rather than 100% guaranteed. In the end what we want is a dial-out service that works 100% of the time.

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