2005.02.01

In Skype, SIP, and the VoIP we took our first steps towards VoIP, and now that it’s a few months later, we’re ready for an update.

I know, I’m the odd man out again, but I just don’t like Skype. I mean, yes, it “just works” and all, but “Skype the Company” aka “Skype Technologies S.A.” worries me. It’s a single entity, a single point of failure, a single vendor, what have you. Can I choose the “open” VoIP route and be not tied to one specific vendor for hardware, or services, or anything? Real VoIP should be built on open standards like SIP, that can be implemented by anyone. Skype ain’t that yet… And really, what incentive does Skype have to open things up to competition? Once they lock in the users, expect some changes… (See the Skype FAQ.)

Now, I am not normally a fan of closed-solutions (yes, I am a Mac user) but the majority of software I use is open-source, and I run Linux servers as well. Skype is propriety, and so is Vonage, with hardware locked to their service. What to do? I’m currently looking much harder at SIPphone.com, and in my use so far there isn’t really anything I don’t like about it. Most likely I’ll buy an analog telephone adapter (not locked to any specific service) and then buy some minutes (better than long term contracts or monthly fees.) In the end I should see tremendous savings in phone costs compared to the typical land line phone (as well as many nre features.) I don’t know if that would be true for every household (it might be) but in my situation, and considering my usage patterns, I think it’ll work out great.

I will give Skype this one, the software is (currently) easier to set up. So if you go the softphone route with VoIP, there may be a bit of configuration to do. Otherwise I hear most of the VoIP hardware setup is pretty painless.

I know Skype is what all the cool kids are using, and it “just works” and all that, but I just don’t trust them, and dangit, you shouldn’t do business with those you don’t trust.

Look, if you are a big fan of the “free” then go to SIPphone.com and get a free SIP number, and take a look at what they offer. Compare it to Skype, see which one looks better, and if you think Skype is the clear winner, let me know.

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