Category: voip

Skype is Evil – Other VOIP Options

Skype has revealed themselves to be evil in [the latest spyware fiasco]( So what are the other options? Let’s look at the various criteria:

* Softphone for Desktop Win/Mac/Nix
* Softphone for Mobile S60
* DID Provider

## Softphone for Desktop ##
A softphone is a software SIP phone implementation. SIP stands for [Session Initiation Protocol](, basically an open standard for telephony. There are a few options out there, but essentially two categories: proprietary and open source.

### Proprietary ###
* [Gizmo5](, formerly GizmoProject, formerly PhoneGaim

### Open Source ###
* [QuteCom](, formerly OpenWengo, has Win/Nix distributions that work, and appears to be one of the most comprehensive, having support for a wide variety of IM clients as well
* [Ekiga](, formerly GnomeMeeting, has a Nix distribution of their latest 3.0 version
* [Kphone]( is a Unix implementation, latest release is 2007 (as of 2008-10-03)
* [Linphone]( is a Win/Nix implementation

## S60 Softphone ##
* [Fring]( seems to be the only option that I can get working well on the Nokia n82
* Fring is proprietary, not open source

## SIP Stacks ##
For programmers, besides the open source projects mentioned above, the following are interesting SIP stacks for developing your own SIP applications:

* [pjSIP](
* Nokia’s [Sofia SIP](

## Other projects ##
* [Asterisk]( – PBX
* [Telepathy]( – a Nokia project using Sofia SIP

Internet Telephony – A few offerings – VOIP – Skype – Gizmo

This analysis looks at the offerings of a few popular commercial VOIP providers. The main issue was US and Canada inbound (local number) and outbound calling from PC and my Nokia N82 S60 mobile phone.

### Requirements ###
* __Outbound calling__ preferably with a caller ID
* __Inbound calling__ with a local phone number in USA and Canada
* __Voicemail__ with voicemail notification/alert
* __Mobile client__ for Nokia n82 S60 client, preferably with the same per minute calling plan

### Skype – Skype In – Skype Out ###
[Skype]( is likely the most popular consumer and business VOIP solution, purchased by Ebay for an ungodly sum, but essentially running as a stand-alone unit

* Skype Out is the dial out option which has per minute or [monthly subscriptions]( including an unlimited US/Canada for $2.95/mo
* Skype In is an inbound phone number with outbound caller ID for $60/year, with numbers available in [21 countries]( (for some reason not including Canada)
* Skype has [quite a few nice options](, including 25-person conference calls, send text messages, etc.
* Skype also offers a service called Skype-to-go which enables a local calling number that then uses Skype as a backbone to another number in another country. This is limited to only a handful of countries currently, but is worth looking into if you are interested in bridging between the following countries: Australia, Chile, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Ireland, New Zealand, Poland, Sweden, UK and USA.
* There are various Skype clients for the mobile phone at the [Nokia Mosh]( site, however the [Fring client]( really works best for me. It is a free VOIP and IM client that supports Skype, SIP phones, Twitter, Google Talk, Jabber, etc.

### Gizmo Project – Gizmo5 ###
[Gizmo]( is a project of [SIPphone](

* Gizmo allows for forwarding to another phone number for per-minute Gizmo Call Out rates.
* Gizmo offers $12/3 months and $35/1 year (USA number price, higher for other countries or particular prefixes) call-in VOIP with no additional per minute charges for incoming calls, with numbers available in 28 countries (including Canada)
* For $4.00 Gizmo adds Caller ID to the Gizmo Call Out calls
* There are additional features like [sending and receiving free text messages](, free [conference call-in numbers](, and [interoperability with other IM networks]( and [group chats]( and call [recording](
* Gizmo works on Win, Mac, Linux and Nokia Tablets. There are Gizmo clients for mobile phones but they increase the per-minute call out price. Just as with Skype, the [Fring client]( supports Gizmo for call out and call in, though for the chatting, it is better to go with the Gizmo5 client on the S60 platform.

### VBuzzer ###
[Vbuzzer]( is a little-known Canadian VOIP provider with some great pricing and options

* A Toronto area code number costs $50/year. Prices are as low as 1.5 cents/minute for North American calls
* One reason I did not go this route is that I could not get a Vancouver area code number at the time (even though now I am in Victoria)
* On the Vbuzzer blog is an entry for [Nokia SIP VOIP settings](, and the Fring client can work because Vbuzzer is a SIP-compliant VOIP provider.

### SIP ###
SIP stands for [Session Initiation Protocol]( and is a 3GPP standard for multimedia session management, used most often with VOIP. With the use of standards, there are more options for SIP providers that SIP client and server implementations and interoperability, unlike the proprietary protocols used by Skype. [XMPP](, aka Jabber, is another open standard messaging protocol that has a similar role with regard to instant messaging.

### Final Decision ###
At the end of the day, for flexibility and cost savings I made the following decisions

* [Skype]( for dialing out with $2.95/mo unlimited calling to US and Canada
* [Skype]( for computer-to-computer calling (easier for others to install and call)
* [Gizmo]( for dialing in with a Seattle phone number for $35/year
* [Fring]( for the S60 client for dialing out with Skype and receiving calls with Gizmo
* Final costs will run about $70.40 for the year of calling in and out internationally
* The main disadvantage is that I have given up the idea of using the regular telecom networks and have to rely on computer and broadband and wifi networks for the calls. The main advantage is a huge pricing difference that has actually increased my use of telephony and reduced the amount of transportation I use to have meetings.
* Note, the use of [Zoho Meeting]( for desktop sharing and presentations is a strong supplement to voice communication (and the occasional video call).