[kwlug-disc] Dump skype on Monday night

Jason Locklin locklin.jason at gmail.com
Tue Jun 7 14:28:16 EDT 2011

> Steven Blatchford wrote, On 06/06/2011 3:02 PM:
> >> Perhaps dumb questions, but:
> >>
> >> 1. There are Skype alternatives?
> >> - for the moment, let's ignore the client and talk about the backbone.
> >> - i.e. To Khalid's point, presumably the alternative has to have a
> >> solid, wide-ranging presence - if we're to convince those we talk to
> >> to consider trying the alternative. What might they be - google?
> >> (Given Android?)
Skype alternatives? Yes, of course. Skype is just VOIP combined with an
instant-message type phone book. The two general types of competitors
are SIP clients that combine with other IM networks to achieve the same
effect, or XMPP/Jabber clients that use the Jingle protocol to create
VOIP calls. Of course SIP clients can integrate well with PBX's and
ATA's, while Jingle VOIP users can communicate with GTalk and even
Googles Gmail-based VOIP chat.

Of course, any client that is not as capable as Skype at recklessly
punching holes through crappy, restricted NAT routers is a non-starter.
Additionally, the ability to create peer-to-peer connections instead of
always using a proxy for NAT (i.e., ICE), can drastically improve call
quality. In effect, Skype seems to always work, even on the most
restrictive of networks, and at the same time, manages to find a direct
peer-to-peer connection if at all possible. An alternative needs to be
able to do the same or better. 

Cross-platform examples I like:
Blink. SIP with IM.  http://icanblink.com/ 
Jitsi (sip-communicator). Multi protocol including SIP and XMPP
Empathy/Telepathy is convenient on Gnome, but lacks a lot of features
and defaults to a low-quality audio codec.

> >> 2. Why switch from Skype?
> >> - I get that MS has purchased Skype - have there been any intimations
> >> or news of 'nefariousness'?

Proprietary and jealously closed network. Anyone interested in continued
innovation in internet based voice communication should support any move
away from such a network. There is a reason that despite Skype having
100's of times more users, there are many more companies developing
products (hardware and software) for SIP based communication.

I can never manage make it out to meetings (3 young children at home),
but am happy to help experiment if anyone is trying to figure out what
works best over a variety of network situations.


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