Alternatives to Skype beginning Jan 1, 2007

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Sci/Tech

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.

Full Story.


Related:

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".

You need

* 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 ...

A Free Telephone.