A great thing about smaller providers is that they’re always looking at the crazy ideas to come up with something really cool. A great example of that is how SumoFiber is approaching home phone service. Most providers either resell a SIP trunk or roll their own in-house SIP solution. (Veracity is an example of the latter.) SumoFiber took a different tack: why not add inexpensive E911 service onto a Google Voice account? (Update: This is in addition to traditional VoIP solutions.)
The secret sauce is an adapter from a little-known company called Obihai. It’s an inexpensive ATA that lets you hook up Google Voice accounts and use a normal home phone with them. That means unlimited long distance to the US and Canada and cheap calls to pretty much everywhere else. Google Voice is a free service, and E911 trunks are pretty inexpensive (often under $1/mo). They’re doing what I did at home about a month ago, so I can attest to the reliability and seamlessness of the service.
Could you buy the adapter and configure it yourself? Probably. The advantage of the provider doing it is that they’ll handle all of the hardware, setup, and QoS for you. A gearhead like me may be able to figure it out and deal with the occasional service provider hiccup from congestion, but Joe User could find it tricky, especially finding an E911 service provider to provision. Even so, the only QoS I can implement is on my local connection, not all the way to the ISP’s backhaul connection.
This is a great way to add value to an existing service and really embraces the “dumb pipe” nature of an open access network. This is one of the many ways that UTOPIA providers can differentiate themselves against incumbents and each other.
PS They’re also going to be bumping all 50Mbps customers to 100Mbps just like XMission and match the price too.
If you’re a UTOPIA service provider doing something a little off the beaten path, let me know and I’ll be happy to write about it.