Category: Voice

FCC validates Sonic robocall blocking efforts

Last year Sonic partnered with the award-winning Nomorobo robocall blocking solution for our Fusion landline phone service. Last Friday, the FCC validated that choice, affirming in a 3 to 2 vote a carrier’s right to offer robocall blocking to its customers.

The FCC’s Chairman, Tom Wheeler, wroteFor the first time, we clarify that there is no legal reason carriers shouldn’t offer their customers popular robocall-blocking solutions, so that consumers can use market-based approaches to stop unwanted calls.

Sonic was the first US telecommunications carrier to integrate and deploy Nomorobo, and we are pleased that the FCC and FTC have supported our consumer-friendly policies on annoying and often fraudulent robocalling. Until this decision last week, it was possible that our decision to offer this free feature would be challenged, so we appreciate the FCC’s decision, and we thank the commissioners for their action on this issue.

Sonic’s Nomorobo blocking feature has blocked over five million spam calls so far, saving huge amounts of time and frustration for our members. The Nomorobo feature is free for Sonic members, who can enable or disable it via our Member Tools.

To learn more about robocalls, see Federal Trade Commission’s Robocalls page, which includes a thorough infographic on how robocalls work. Sonic’s integrated Nomorobo solution was a winner of the FTC’s 2013 Robocall Challenge.

To learn more about Sonic’s Nomorobo feature, see the brief video here:

 

Free calling to the Philippines

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In recognition of the massive natural disaster affecting the Philippines, all calls to the country will be free for the month of November. If you have family or friends in this region, we hope for the best for them. We hope that we are able to help you stay connected, with a waiver of all costs for this month.

For those seeking loved ones in the region, Google has activated their Person Finder, a resource for those displaced to register themselves, and for those searching to find and connect. Visit the Typhoon Yolanda person finder.

Get the new Sonic Fusion app, free!

iphone5_linesettingsIf you’ve got an iPhone, we’ve got an app for you!

The new Sonic Fusion Mobile app for iPhone will alert you when someone leaves you a voicemail, providing easy message playback while you are on the go. The app also offers access to line settings, including call forwarding. This makes it easy to forward your Fusion line to your mobile phone or another destination, even when you’re already away from home or the office.

The app is free, just go to sonic.net/fusionapp from your iPhone’s Safari browser to install it now.

For Fusion voicemail notifications, be sure to allow notifications when you start the app. When setting up the app for the first time, you will need to be at the location where your Fusion service is delivered to authenticate the line.

To address the obvious question, “What about Android?”: We plan to see how much interest there is in the app for iPhone before we commit to development for the Android platform. If it is very popular, we are likely to commit to Android support too.

 

Sonic.net Fusion adds unsolicited call blocking

I am very pleased to announce our latest free Fusion Phone feature:

Unsolicited Telemarketing Call Blocking!

This has been one of our most frequently requested features. With our new unsolicited telemarketing call blocking feature, calls from known unsolicited telemarketing callers are silently rejected, saving our members time and frustration. This feature will not eliminate all of the annoying unsolicited calls, but it should reduce the number of unsolicited telemarketing calls that our members receive.
For members who prefer not to participate in this blocking, this feature can be configured in our Member Tools, in the Voice settings. Here are the details on that:
Voice options:
You can manage your Fusion phone line features such as call blocking, voicemail, call waiting and forwarding, plus view usage details. Here is a list of the Fusion voice features and settings which you can manage online:
  • Voicemail settings
  • Call waiting configuration
  • Caller ID blocking
  • Anonymous call rejection (new!)
  • Unsolicited telemarketing call filtering (new!)
  • International toll call blocking
  • Call forwarding

To access Fusion voice settings, visit the Voice section of the Member Tools. Once there, select the telephone number of the Fusion line you would like to configure. If you decide to make any changes, be sure to click “Update” to save the new configuration.

Customer Forum:
If you have questions about using these features or about Fusion telephone service in general, please click to visit our Voice Forum.
Please tell a friend!
As you have probably noticed, your Fusion service gets better as we grow. Membership growth is the key, so I am asking for your assistance: please tell a friend or neighbor about Fusion today.
The Fusion vision is to build the ideal service: fast unlimited broadband with strong privacy policies, plus unlimited phone service and lots of features included free. Thank you for your support as we continue to work to make our vision a reality.

Sincerely,

Dane Jasper
CEO & Co-Founder
Sonic.net/Sonic Telecom

P.S.: We also really appreciate your shout-outs, likes and follows on Facebook andTwitter!

Fusion Free Borderless Calling Expansion (sorry, Antarctica!)

Late last year, we launched  “Borderless Calling” for Fusion, with eight total hours of free calls to Canada. We chose Canada because it was our most popular international destination, and this has saved our Fusion members a ton of money on their monthly bills over the last year.

We are now expanding free calling beyond North America, to the top call destination on every continent!

For each continent*, we tallied our Fusion members’ top international destination, and added the most-called country on each continent* to our free Borderless calling list. (Go ahead, click the asterisk. I know you want to. I’ll wait.)

Fusion Borderless Calling now includes eight total hours of free calls to land line telephones in six countries plus four territories. (Calls to mobile phones are still toll calls, except in the US, Canada and the US territories. See international rates for full details.)

Fusion Borderless Calling now includes:

  • Canada
  • United Kingdom
  • Japan
  • Australia
  • Brazil
  • South Africa

Fusion already includes free unlimited calling to all 50 US states, plus US territories:

  • Puerto Rico
  • Guam
  • US Virgin Islands
  • American Samoa
   

As Fusion membership grows, we will continue to add more features, including more free Borderless calling destinations. So please, tell a friend about Fusion unlimited broadband and phone service, now with free Borderless Calling to ten international destinations, all for only $39.95/mo.

Thank you for being a Sonic.net Fusion customer!

The fine print:

For full international call pricing and to look up a rate, see the international rate table.

All calling features for Fusion service are limited to interactive use by our members. You may not re-sell or share the service. For details, see: use provisions.

* Apologies to the roughly 3,687 scientists and staff at the various Antarctic research stations, and even deeper apologies to the 964 who typically stay through the long and isolated winter. I imagine you would really appreciate a call from one of our friendly Fusion members. But, your telephone service is all satellite delivery, so I am going to pretend that you aren’t really a continent. From the perspective of free Fusion Borderless calls to land lines, you’re not. Sorry!

Death and taxes

Chart of FUSF rates from 1998 to 2012, rising from four percent to fifteen percent

The Federal Universal Service Fund fee has spent the last decade climbing upward without any apparent end in sight. This next quarter it is set to drop a little, but this isn’t an indication of a change in the overall trend: upward. A Sonic.net Fusion customer pays roughly $2.40 monthly toward the Federal Universal Service program today.

The goals of universal service are laudable. In particular, connecting schools which lack adequate broadband access and computers can only pay dividends through better education. However, the Universal Service fund and E-Rate programs have seen plenty of waste, fraud and abuse. Tens of millions of dollars have been misspent under the E-Rate program. And, three US carriers have received subsidies (pg32) of over $10,000 for every home phone line per year!

This program cannot continue to grow without an upper bound. The first two years of the FUSF program were reasonable and consistent, with a contribution factor of around 4%. Then, as the scope of the program increased, and as carriers learned how to dip deeply into the system, costs began to rise.

The FCC is working to reform the programs, with a cap on the size of the program. But, I believe we should push for rates to return to much lower levels. The reforms of the universal service system address support levels, price caps and inter-carrier billing methods. Hopefully as these changes are finally implemented, we will begin to see a more consistent rate. Reversing this chart is long overdue.

Sonic.net Goes International

Sonic.net’s Fusion Broadband+Phone service is moving into the next phase of expansion:

Free international calling!

To kick off, we announced this week that our most frequently called country, Canada, will be our first free international destination for Fusion residential customers. Business Fusion customers can now call Canada for their domestic rate, just a penny a minute. See my recent article, “O Canada” (yeah, I know, it’s corny) for limitations and all of the details.

This is an exciting new capability for our Fusion broadband and home phone service, and I am really looking forward to seeing how our customers respond to this new feature.

Let us know in the comments, where would you like to be able to call free?

We will add more destinations soon, and the long-term plan is that calling to most countries will be free. Growth in our Fusion customer quantity will determine how quickly this will occur. So, tell your friends about Fusion!

"Anticipation" -- © Robert S. Donovan -- Flickr/booleansplit

O Canada

Toronto Harbourfront ©@gallerymagdic/Flickr

O Canada!
Our home and native land!
True patriot love in all thy sons command.
With glowing hearts we see thee rise,
The True North strong and free!

Our next residential Fusion feature:

Free calling to Canada!

Canada is our #1 international destination, so this will save our customers thousands of dollars every year. Just pick up the phone and call, Fusion now includes nationwide calling plus calls to Canada, free! (For up to eight hours of international calls … see all the fine print below.)

With Fusion, it’s all about the free stuff!

Fusion offers the fastest broadband without usage caps, a real land line phone service with unlimited nationwide calling, voicemail, caller ID and even free 411. And now, we’ve added free international calling to Canada!

With Fusion, you are liberated from traditional broadband and telephone services, and now you are free to call just a bit further.

The Fusion vision is to build the ideal service: fast unlimited broadband with strong privacy policies, plus unlimited phone service and lots of features included free. Thank you for your support as we continue to work to make this vision a reality.

Sincerely,

Dane Jasper
CEO & Co-Founder
Sonic.net / Sonic Telecom

P.S.: We all very much appreciate your mentions online. Your enthusiasm for our service and the team really helps keep us going — and growing. Click the “Like” button above to share this post, then click over to Facebook and hit “Like” to support us. On Twitter? Click the tweet link to tell your followers what you think about Sonic.net, and “Follow” @sonicnet for updates from our team.

* The fine print: Destinations which are billed as domestic are billed at the same rate as a domestic U.S. call would be; free for residential Fusion users, 1¢ per minute for business Fusion users. Free residential international calls to Canada are limited to 8 hours of calling per month. Business international calls to Canada at 1¢ per minute are limited to 8 hours per month. After 8 hours, calls are billed at 2.5¢ per minute.

New Sonic.net Fusion voice features

As our Fusion customer quantity grows, we are working diligently to improve the service. So, I am very excited to tell you about our next set of free Fusion Phone features:

Forwarding illustrationCall Forwarding:

This has been one of our most requested features. With our new free call forwarding feature, you can now forward your Fusion number anywhere you’d like — to your mobile, or a landline elsewhere. It’s handy when you travel too: forward your home or office Fusion number to your mobile.

You might also use forwarding if mobile service is poor at your home: give callers your Fusion number as your primary number to reach you, then turn on forwarding to your mobile when you depart your home. When you get home, turn off forwarding and take calls on your reliable Fusion landline. Callers  only need to know one number to reliability reach you, at home or away.

To turn on call forwarding, just dial *72 (star seven two) and follow the prompts. To turn it off, dial *73. You can also use our new voice portal (news on that below) to manage forwarding from any connected web browser.

Caller ID displayCaller ID with Names:
Fusion Phone service has always included caller ID, a feature which traditional phone companies charge as much as ten dollars for. But, while we have always included the basic Caller ID with number, we didn’t provide the caller’s name because there is a per-call cost involved in accessing the unified carrier database that includes this information.

Now, because we have thousands of Fusion subscribers, it has become economical for us to include the name feature too. So, if the data is available, you will now see caller names along with their telephone number, for example your caller ID display would show 415-555-1212  JOHN SMITH. Newer telephones will even read the name out loud while you dash to the phone. Note that you will still see some callers appear as “UNKNOWN” or “WIRELESS CALLER”, but if a name is available in the database, we will provide it.

Hunting:

Also known as “rollover”, hunting with Fusion two-line service allows a small business or busy household to have their primary number ring on the second line if the first one is busy. If both lines are busy, you can send the call to voicemail.

When combined with FaxLine, a small business or home office can use one or two numbers, with or without hunting, plus a separate dedicated FaxLine fax number. Two-line Fusion also delivers broadband at twice the speed, so that’s another bonus! If you’d like to upgrade to two-line service, just contact us to get started.

Voice portal screenshotVoice portal:

To manage this growing array of features, we have launched a new Fusion voice management web portal. You can manage features like voicemail, call waiting and forwarding, plus view call details. Here is a complete list of the Fusion voice features and settings which you can manage online today:

  • Voicemail settings
  • Call waiting configuration
  • Caller ID blocking
  • International call blocking
  • Call forwarding

To access the Fusion voice portal, visit the voice portal in the Member Tools. Here is a direct link to the voice section: http://j.mp/Voice-Portal

Support & Forum:

Support is super-duper busy setting up new customers, so if you have questions about using these features or about Fusion voice service in general, it would be very helpful if you would visit our voice forum at: http://j.mp/Voice-Forum

Please tell a friend!

As you have probably noticed, your Fusion service gets better as we grow. Subscriber growth is the key, so I am asking for your assistance: please tell a friend or neighbor about Fusion today. Just ask, “Have you heard about Fusion from Sonic.net?” If they haven’t, tell them about us, and encourage them to visit the Sonic.net site to learn more and to switch. If you do, I promise that we will keep giving you more and more groundbreaking capabilities!

The Fusion vision is to build the ideal service: fast unlimited broadband with strong privacy policies, plus unlimited phone service and lots of features included free. Thank you for your support as we continue to work to make our vision a reality.

Sincerely,

Dane Jasper

CEO & Co-Founder

Sonic.net/Sonic Telecom

P.S.: We also really appreciate your shout-outs on Facebook and Twitter! Click the “Like” button and share on Facebook: http://j.mp/Sonic-Facebook
Are you on Twitter? Tweet to your followers to let them know what you think about Sonic.net, then “Follow” us too: http://j.mp/Sonic-Twitter

Review: Western Electric 302 Telephone

One of the advantages of Sonic.net’s Fusion Broadband+Phone service is that it’s “POTS”; plain old telephone service. This means that all of the devices that you may have used for years on your voice telephone line should still work.

To illustrate this, I picked up a very special Western Electric 302 telephone, built in 1941, and connected it to my Fusion service at home. The 302 is associated with I Love Lucy, and if you look closely at the video, you may catch this phone’s particular connection to Lucile Ball.

Fusion delivers the best of both worlds: traditional DC line-powered voice service, with it’s inherent reliability and e911 capabilities, alongside modern features such as unlimited nationwide calling for home users, modern voicemail with “unified inbox” (voicemail in your email, as well as via phone) and modern voicemail notifications like SMS text and Twitter.

Building on this solid voice platform, we add uncapped and unlimited full-speed broadband, a killer combination! Please help us spread the word!

As for the WE 302 – it’s got great sound quality, a bit fuller and deep than modern phones. The heft is astounding. The metal base and hefty guts in this version mean you would not want to drop the set on your foot. The bakelite handset is also heavy. It has a triangular profile, so you cannot rest it on your shoulder, the classic “holding a phone with your head” pose that’s possible with the more modern WE 500. That’s probably for the best, this means you really cannot multi-task, so it’s a perfect “standing in the entryway talking on the phone” device. When the party on the other end is using the WE 302, you know they’re not multitasking and ignoring you!

The ringer is loud, as you can hear in the video, but in this version, it has no ringer on/off switch, so it’s tough luck if you want to take a nap. The 305 model added this mod-con. I’ve also been experiencing inconsistent problems with the pulse dialing, I suspect this 70 year old unit needs a tune-up. Short numbers like 411 I’ve been pretty successful, but it is a real challenge to get a full seven digit number to dial. I’ll keep troubleshooting and see if I can resolve that.

If you’re looking for a classic rotary or touch-tone phone to put on your Fusion line, check eBay’s classic telephones section. YMMV, buyer beware, really old phones may or may not work, etc. I’d suggest something like a Western Electric 500, rotary or touch-tone. They are a great addition to your household as a phone to use when power is out, and unlike a cordless, you will never find yourself rummaging around the couch cushions trying to find your classic corded phone!