of my time - SIPphone.
SIP is an open
standard that makes it possible for phone calls to move over the
Internet. It's driving a major transformation in telecom just as MP3
with digital music. Here are the latest developments in SIP and
The Linspire headquarters are the entire third floor of a building
in San Diego. In a small office on the second floor, is another company
where I spend a small fraction
1) Calls will be free
When calls go over the
net, they are just another form of data, no different
than an instant message or an email. Consumers don't pay per email or
web site they visit, so why pay per call? Phone calls are the last type
of data that we pay per unit and that will go away very shortly.
be required to pay for the data connection, of course (DSL, Cable
wireless, etc.), and they may pay for deluxe phone service, but the
is ticking on paying for basic calling.
2) Yes, people will make calls from computers
I have to admit that when I first started SIPphone I was dubious about
people making calls directly from their computer on what are called
"soft phones." They are called this because they are software on a PC
rather than a physical phone. See a complete list of soft phones here. Many of the
are free. There are 500 million computers on the net that can potentially make
calls by downloading free software from any computer with a speaker and a
microphone. My favorite program is PhoneGaim, which is now
available for Microsoft Windows or Linspire/Linux. This program adds
voice calling to the best meta-IM program, which means AOL users can
call MSN users who can call Yahoo! users and so on.
It is more of a hassle to use a PC to make calls than to use a traditional
phone because you have to plug in a headset or deal with echo or poor
placement of the microphone. At the Desktop Summit, in San Diego, Feb 9-11th,
SIPphone will be showcasing a new device which will change all of that.
It makes PC calling even easier than regular calling! The new device will make putting a handset to
your face seem like a nuisance and using a computer will actually
be faster and easier.
3) A phone plug in every router
D-link, the largest consumer networking company, began this week selling one of their most popular router models with a phone
plug in the back. (A router is the device that lets you plug multiple computers into your DSL or cable modem.) You simply
plug in any regular telephone and immediately have a dial tone and
instant phone service on any DSL or cable modem connection. No
configuration. No monthly fees. No credit card required. D-link is the
first major networking company to provide an open device, meaning it is
not tied directly to one service. Out of the box, it supports the Plug-n-Dial standard, which
auto-configures each device with a
SIPphone number, which looks like 1-747-XXX-XXXX. There are no charges for
basic SIP calling, and features like voice mail and online account
management are included at no cost. Best of all, users can change
to another service if SIPphone is not right for them. This gives great
power to consumers, which is always a good thing!
4) Lots of financial trickery over the next year from a new breed of
There's a new breed of phone companies, like Vonage, who are
implementing a stealthy campaign to deceive customers. They are selling
devices and plastering the box with "Free calling! Free voice mail! Free
call waiting!." etc., without disclosing that a monthly fee is required.
They'll proudly announce "No contracts!" but fail to mention that a
credit card must be on file, which is then auto-billed. And perhaps worse of
all, they are not disclosing that the phone service on the router will
ONLY work with Vonage. Their packaging even talks about working with
"other compatible services," but it only works with Vonage. Either you
pay them money or you won't have service - and remember this is for a
device that you paid good money up front for. This would be like a modem
company selling modems that would ONLY work with Compuserve. What a
damper this would have put on Internet growth.
Vonage and other similar companies are within their rights to charge a
monthly fee or to cripple a device so it will work only with their
service. But they cross the line to deception when they sell networking
hardware without disclosing it will only work with their service and
hiding monthly fees and other charges like cancellation fees. It will
likely take some lawsuits to force Vonage to be more forthcoming in
their advertising. Until they do, other net calling companies are
following in their footsteps, which is making net calling a confusing
money trap for new users.
5) Instant messaging and voice melt together
The last thing users want is ANOTHER address book on their computer.
Most already have one for email and one for instant messaging. So it
seems logical for voice calling to be an extension of one of those
tasks. I believe the immediacy of voice more closely resembles instant
messaging style of communication. Expect to see voice integrated
seamlessly into all instant messengers this year. Eventually, you
should be able to click a phone number and instantly
initiate a call from any program on your computer.
Imagine one click and you're talking to an eBay seller, or one click and
you're talking to a potential date or you're in a group chat about your
be slick? Stay tuned!
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