Alternatives to Skype beginning Jan 1, 2007
I have been using Skype for the past few months to take advantage of the promotion they had of “free calls to the US & Canada until 2007″. It has been nice to use a free phone service while my cell-phone battery has been dead. Starting Jan 1, 2007 however Skype will begin charging $14.95 / year for unlimited calls. While it is very convenient and a very competitive price I will no longer use Skype at the end of the year.
My reasons are not the price. Yes, free is appealing and $14.95 / year is by no means a large expense to anyone. My main reason is that Skype does not use a standard protocol for its communication. There are many other SIP options available, most of which use an open communication protocol.
This is not Linux unique but here is one way to get a free telephone complete with a free US phone number, and even personally answered voice mail. For those who want more, let me toss in free conference calls. If I was writing this for monthly TUX this would be a real how-to. Here, this is more like a "what-to".
* A Gizmo account (which gets you a SIP number)
* Gizmo Project software for your Linux desktop
* Free Washington state phone number from IPKall
First off, SIP is the standard, non-proprietary Voice over IP (VoIP) phone technology. You can contrast this with Skype, for example, which is a proprietary protocol. Once you have a SIP number you can freely call others with a SIP number. There are multiple networks but there are gateways to deal with that for you.
Step one is ...