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17 October 2006

IP Telephony, Here I Come!

Skype, Gizmo, ...and Vivodi

Yesterday I signed up with Internet telephony services Gizmo and Skype. I had been looking into the options for a while, but then just came the time. The thing is, that I need cheaper phone calls to some European countries right now, and yesterday was the day to finally get it rolling...


My first choice was Gizmo, but that didn't work out. Why would I have preferred Gizmo? Because Skype uses a closed source, proprietary protocol. The company also belongs to ebay now, which is ultimately not sympatico. Gizmo follows the SIP standard, which means that can interact with other programs using the same, open standard. But things turned out different.

Signing up for Gizmo was easy enough. Download the program, go through the usual dance to create an account. There you go. Do you? Actually you may have to set up your firewall too. There are some ports that have to be forwarded, no problem for a bithead like me. They even link to portforward.com where you can select your router and the application you want to "pass through" and you get nice step-by-step instructions. But it still didn't work. Which was obvious to me after a short while of thinking.

The thing is, we are a very progressive household here. We have our telephone service not from the government monopoly OTE service, but instead use the private phone company Vivodi for both our ADSL and telephone service. Vivodi in turn uses VoIP to give us two phone lines, and these phone lines obviously work with the SIP standard. That in turn means that the same ports that I tried to use for Gizmo are in use for our standard phone lines. Unless Gizmo (or SIP) offers an "alternate port" scheme, I don't see me using that (or another SIP service) anytime soon, which is sad.

Skype in turn uses their own, proprietary system to get through all kind of firewall and NAT routing setups. They use different ports from SIP too (since they aren't doing SIP anyway). So their service worked.

Since I want to call "normal" phone lines and not Internet users, I don't care what other people are using. Instead I need a service called "call out". Usually one makes an online payment (for example 10 Euro) and can then make outgoing phone calls to normal numbers for that amount of money. Prices are much cheaper than through the normal telephone service. Calling one hour to Germany cost me about 8.50 Euro through Vivodi, while Skype deducted about 1 Euro. The "prepaid" scheme is desirable with an Internet service like this, since you have a boundary to your spending. The voice quality was fine too, so I'll be using the service more often.

Posted by betabug at 19:56 | Comments (1) | Trackbacks (0)
ch athens
Life in Athens (Greece) for a foreigner from the other side of the mountains. And with an interest in digital life and the feeling of change in a big city. Multilingual English - German - Greek.
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Re: IP Telephony, Here I Come!

But remember to open Skype only when you need to use it. Don't leave it turned on by default. The P2P model of Skype may elect your machine as a supernode and then hasta la vista dear bandwidth.

Posted by: Saad at October 19,2006 03:49
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