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Communications Technology

Skype Courts Businesses With "Skype for SIP" 79

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the squeezing-blood-from-a-turnip dept.
Skype has made a new foray into the business front with their announcement of "Skype for SIP." This allows businesses to migrate to Skype without having to move off of their old PBX systems. "Skype has long had a business unit, but that version of its service required computers and software, which is how most users make their Skype calls. With Skype for SIP the company seeks to lower the pain barrier by requiring no hardware installation whatsoever, and the re-configuration of a SIP-enabled PBX to an established codec that presumably is within the skillset of whoever maintains it already."
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Skype Courts Businesses With "Skype for SIP"

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  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn@nOsPam.gmail.com> on Monday March 23, 2009 @01:29PM (#27301705) Journal
    1. Are they going to give you the option to turn off supernoding (I think this was included in version 3.0 but I don't use Skype) instead of having to work around [ghacks.net] them destroying your bandwidth [slashdot.org]?
    2. Will it still punch holes in the company's firewall [slashdot.org]?
    3. Is Skype still reading the machine's BIOS [slashdot.org]?
    4. And what about the rumors at home and abroad of back doors for bugging [slashdot.org] on Skype? Have those rumors been quashed or does my company risk dissemination of proprietary phone calls?

    Sorry guys, my very large employer gives me a big policy denial if I even try to visit Skype.com let alone download anything from them and install it. You have to address the above before you even start to gain the trust of large companies.

    • by citizenr (871508) on Monday March 23, 2009 @02:08PM (#27302195) Homepage
      SIP is usually implemented in hardware, be it a PBX or a phone. "Skype for SIP" means they will offer SIP gateways for Skype = no Skype software on your end.
  • by guruevi (827432) <evi@smok[ ]cube.be ['ing' in gap]> on Monday March 23, 2009 @01:36PM (#27301779) Homepage

    Skype is like the Microsoft (MSN) of VoIP. It's one of the main players for home and even small business yet it isn't compatible with any of the other players. It also attempts to lock in their customers (as they don't accept or dial out to SIP) so anyone that wants to connect to anyone else needs Skype. Furthermore it's doing some dubious practices behind the doors with three-letter agencies and governments so they can't be trusted. Anyone trying to implement their protocol is either infringing on patents or otherwise will meet a DMCA.

    • Skype is like the Microsoft (MSN) of VoIP

      Then I feel like the typical Microsoft user: I'm unaware of any alternatives. What other VoIP clients do you recommend?

      • There are many SIP clients out there Quetcom or Twinkle are two interesting examples. Problem is the lock-in: If all your friends use Skype, you have to use fucking Skype. Or you ditch your friends.

        • I guess my question is really what do VoIP applications like Quetcom or Twinkle have that Skype does not? Give me a good OS-X-vs-Windows-Vista reason why they are superior. I'm genuinely curious and would switch if there's a good reason to do so.
          • by raju1kabir (251972) on Monday March 23, 2009 @04:08PM (#27303743) Homepage

            I guess my question is really what do VoIP applications like Quetcom or Twinkle have that Skype does not? Give me a good OS-X-vs-Windows-Vista reason why they are superior. I'm genuinely curious and would switch if there's a good reason to do so.

            I've been using SIP-based VoIP for about 8 years, including leading some decent-sized deployments around the world, and I have never heard of Quetcom or Twinkle. So this tells you one thing already: there's a tremendous diversity of software out there in the standards-based VoIP world (an alternative theory is that it's just telling you that I'm somewhat ignorant). Diversity means you have a better chance of finding something that more closely meets your needs.

            But let me tell you some of the reasons I think SIP-based VoIP would appeal to a home user who's at least a tiny bit technically inclined:

            1. Vastly superior hardware. Even halfway-decent SIP phones make the best Skype-compatible hardware look like absolute garbage. A mid-range Polycom will give you a full-duplex speakerphone that will rock your world. I'm using one from here in Malaysia to connect with co-workers in Europe and the USA, and the sound is perfect. 100%-effective echo cancellation, even with my 250ms other-side-of-the-planet latency. With Skype, echo always seems to become a problem at long distances (I'm not talking about feedback you get when using your PC speakers).

            2. Vastly cheaper calls. The SIP ecosystem has a huge number of competitive suppliers, many of them with rates that leave Skype in the dust. My per-minute cost for most calls is 1/3 to 1/2 of what Skype charges (and I get comparable or superior audio quality).

            3. Far more customisability. With a bit of tinkering, you can set up call handling/routing to do anything you can dream of. Calls from my parents ring on my mobile at any time no matter where I'm traveling, while calls from clients are handled differently depending on where I am and what time it is. Despite traveling to 20+ countries a year, I never pay roaming fees because I can route my calls to a new prepaid SIM card minutes after buying it, just by sending my server an SMS. With Skype you can only do what Skype, and a handful of bolt-on plug-in vendors that require your PC to be on all the time, think will make them money.

            4. Interoperability. I'm a freelancer, and the SIP phone on my desk integrates directly with the PBXes of three of my main clients. I'm just a 3- or 4-digit extension in their phone system, with full abilities to do whatever people sitting in the office can do on their phones. My 4th line button connects to my own Asterisk server, which in turn bridges to a bunch of other systems.

            • by costas (38724)

              Your setup sounds very interesting and close to what I've been looking for for ages. Is that something you setup yourself? are there services out there that will set something like that up for a small business? links or pointers?

              • Originally I set up Asterisk from source code and did everything the hard way, but about a year ago I switched to FreePBX [freepbx.org] which has simplified my life considerably. I have a few hand-coded scripts (for the SMS stuff) but otherwise it's all managed through the web interface now.

                Interfacing with my clients' phone systems was a matter of getting configuration info from the phone systems' managers, then editing the XML file that tells my phone where to connect to.

                Definitely none of it is a smooth and easy a

        • by muuh-gnu (894733)

          > There are many SIP clients out there Quetcom or Twinkle are two interesting examples.

          Without checking, I suppose they have no webcam support, haven't they? Skype is no way as prevalent as it is just for its Voip capablities.

          > Problem is the lock-in: If all your friends use Skype, you have to use fucking Skype. Or
          > you ditch your friends.

          No, the problem is that every other competing system (especially the free software ones) lacks one or more of the features I use daily with skype and therefore am

  • by sampas (256178) * on Monday March 23, 2009 @01:41PM (#27301841)
    Verizon [verizon.com] and ATT offer SIP trunks already, but they don't push them because they're cheaper than TDM ports. Plenty of other VOIP providers like Aretta and Vitelity also offer them. With G729 over IAX2 [digium.com], though, you can get even more calls down a single T1. Is this news just because Skype is doing it?
    • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Monday March 23, 2009 @01:50PM (#27301969) Journal
      I don't really see who would use this. If you already have SIP infrastructure there are loads of companies competing for your business in SIP to POTS bridging, and you can easily use different ones for calls to different companies, and for providing phone numbers in different countries. Skype doesn't offer particularly good value for money, its one advantage over SIP providers is that it is trivial to use from behind a NAT or a firewall, something that doesn't apply to a company that already has SIP deployed internally.
      • If you already have SIP infrastructure there are loads of companies competing for your business in SIP to POTS bridging

        That's assuming the point of this is to bridge to the PSTN. Allowing SIP users to call Skype users (without going via the PSTN) would be beneficial for their customers. They don't make money from calls they aren't bridging to the PSTN, but retaining their customers means more people who might make use of the bridge.

        Skype doesn't offer particularly good value for money

        Nor do many very successful businesses - Skype have a big name for themselves, and this makes them the first choice for a lot of people who are too lazy to shop around for a good deal.

        I often hear it commented that Skype is "easier" than SIP - this has very little to do with the protocol, and everything to do with the fact that the user doesn't have to exercise their brain and make a choice about which service provider to use. The sad thing is that when Skype give them a really sucky service (because they try to work around broken networks, with varying success, rather than forcing the user to fix it) the users conclude that "VoIP sucks", rather than "Skype sucks", and don't even bother looking at the alternatives.

        its one advantage over SIP providers is that it is trivial to use from behind a NAT or a firewall, something that doesn't apply to a company that already has SIP deployed internally.

        SIP is actually quite trivial to deploy through a stateful firewall and most NATs so long as *all* your calls are going through the NAT. STUN does, for the most part, tend to work reasonably. It isn't 100% reliable (as the STUN RFC admits), but it's pretty good and if it works for you once, it'll probably work for you every time. On the other hand, in cases where SIP won't work, Skype will do crazy stuff like silently tunnelling your voice over HTTP instead of making you fix your terminally broken network - this frequently leads to a crappy service with no real indication to the user that they could fix their network to make it better.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by joe_cot (1011355)

        I don't really see who would use this. If you already have SIP infrastructure there are loads of companies competing for your business in SIP to POTS bridging, and you can easily use different ones for calls to different companies, and for providing phone numbers in different countries.

        Skype provides better rates to some places. That's not what I'd use it for.

        I'd use it to talk to people that use Skype! If my mom uses skype, and I have Skype connected to my Asterisk system, she can call me and I can talk on my normal phone. If I have a call center using Asterisk, I can start offering support over Skype without changing our system at all. We have clients in third world countries who pay for great internet connections, but have terrible phone lines. They use skype for everything, so it

      • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        I don't really see who would use this. If you already have SIP infrastructure there are loads of companies competing for your business in SIP to POTS bridging

        Here's your answer. While you are correct, there is no desktop client like skype, that does audio, video, instant messaging & calling and does it VERY WELL.

        Having tested many sip softphones and IM clients for corporate use, having one simple "presence" client that just works in all network situations and does everything is very handy. Having to dea

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by NormalVisual (565491)
      I'll give a shout-out to Vitelity. I've run my Asterisk box at home through them for about three years now, and the reliability has been such that I hardly ever give them a thought. I don't think you can ask much more of a comms provider, and I definitely like being able to pick and choose services ala carte.

      Skype has yet to offer anything interesting to me.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by vlm (69642)

      I'm mystified as to how to set up a dial plan for this. Maybe the answer is not to, just ignore it?

      I have a perfectly good asterisk PBX at home with voicepulse as a IAX err... SIP provider, which used the much more modern and firewall friendly IAX protocol but dumped it for the PITA ancient pre-NAT pre-firewall era SIP protocol last month. Other than that major headache, they are great and only cost me 1/2 of a cent per minute outgoing.

      Now skype will do free on-skype-net calls but offnet is 2 cents per mi

      • by hab136 (30884)

        And whats in it for skype? Lots of talk about "billions of dollars" in the article, which at 2 cents billable per minute, would only take something like 95000 call-years to gross a single billion.

        Assuming all calls are to the US or a landline. Have you tried calling an EU mobile phone? A quarter a minute.

        http://www.skype.com/prices/callrates/#allRatesTab [skype.com]
        United Kingdom - Mobile - Vodafone $ 0.253
        Germany - Mobile Tmobil $ 0.246

        Let's do some math!

        Estimate of about 14 million concurrent users on Skype

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 23, 2009 @01:41PM (#27301843)

    Just browse through their forums. Their support system is almost nonexistent. The Skype software also seems relatively buggy in my experience.

    I have been trying to use both SkypeOut and SkypeIn as my primary phone for almost a year now. SkypeOut is pretty decent, it's really cheap on the subscription plans and it works well. SkypeIn has been a whole different story. It has been very unreliable. Often I miss calls as Skype sends them straight to voice mail (like I'm not logged in even though I am). When this happens there is no trace of anyone calling unless they leave a voice mail. I have to log out then log back in to get the SkypeIn number to start working again. Then just stops working again after a while. It is unusable in my opinion.

    I still use SkypeOut but I use a regular SIP provider for incoming calls. I probably won't be using SkypeOut much longer though because there does not appear to be any way to set your caller ID number to anything other than a SkypeIn or cellphone and I want to set it to my SIP incoming number.

    • by Aladrin (926209)

      I use Skype from a dedicated phone I bought for it, rather than through the computer. (I think it was a DLink.) My experience has been very good. It wasn't the easiest thing in the world to set up (had to manually enter quite a few settings) but it's been pretty nice since then. I've had to reboot the base twice in like a year and a half or so.

      My biggest complaint so far is that there's no way to turn off voicemail unless you've got a client (or phone) logged in. If you don't, it'll go to voicemail whe

    • by nicklott (533496) on Monday March 23, 2009 @02:58PM (#27302831)

      Skype for business is truly awful. There is no support , their software locks users out of their accounts randomly along with their credit, it also blocks them from the business account randomly, oh and did I mention there is no way to contact skype?

      I can deal with the lack of support and dropped calls in their free version, but as soon as I start paying them money I expect to at least have some level of contact with the company and people who are paying a considerable amount (and there are people spending thousands complaining in their forum) will expect personal contact. If they ever want to turn a profit I suggest they get this part of their business sorted or they are boned.

    • by darjen (879890)

      I've been doing the same, with similar results for Skype In. I have a Nokia e71, with SIP stack built right in to my contacts, so I don't imagine staying with Skype In/Out much longer. When I tried to add skype credit the other day, they charged me $3 for a monthly subscription, which I promptly canceled. I'll probably end up going someone like Gizmo5 in the near future, where I can put in $10 and use the credit till it runs out, without having to worry about subscription fees. I'll have to change phone num

    • by jp10558 (748604)

      Oddly enough, I actually prefer MagicJack more than Skype. Similar shady company, but so far it a) costs a lot less than Skype (about half compared to subscription plans when I last checked) b) uses SIP underneath, so if you don't worry too much about TOS (I do like to keep to TOS, but hey) you can use with Linux softphones or whatever you like. There's also lots of people who have gotten it working on a ATA.

      Of course, MagicJack is definately a best effort service, so I don't think I'd replace my only phone

  • We have been doing SIP from our hardware and software phones forever. I do not wee what value Skype brings to the scene. I never saw the value of the Skype technology to begin with and SIP is just a *me too* feature at this point. When I read from TFA that eBay is now the owner, that sealed the deal for me to never use it. I canceled my eBay and PayPal accounts months ago.
  • Skype for Asterisk (Score:3, Informative)

    by Ransak (548582) on Monday March 23, 2009 @01:48PM (#27301925) Homepage Journal
    Last year at AstriCon a Skype to Asterisk [skype.com] channel driver was unveiled so I don't think it's a jaw dropping announcement that Skype is implementing SIP in a more general fashion. Based on that pricing however their going to be competing with Vitelity, Gafachi, and a few other wholesale VoIP termination/origination providers. Could get interesting.
  • by mpapet (761907) on Monday March 23, 2009 @02:02PM (#27302107) Homepage

    that are filled with Verizon/SBC/etc patents.

    Note to all, the telco monopoly litigate with vengeance when an organization tries to cut into their hostage base. See Vonage case for the ultimate, totally unjustified, vigorish.

    http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20070417/005814.shtml [techdirt.com]

  • by joe_cot (1011355) on Monday March 23, 2009 @02:17PM (#27302303) Homepage
    SIP [wikipedia.org] is the underlying protocol that makes most VOIP work. If you're using Vonage, or Asterisk, or most other VOIP systems/providers, your phone calls are getting coordinated over SIP, with the audio sent back and forth on the side. Using SIP, Cisco systems can communicate with Asterisk systems, which can communicate with Microsoft SoundPoint systems, etc. Any of those systems can connect to a "SIP Provider" to get phone service.

    Skype is off in its own little walled garden, with a special protocol and codec. There have been many attempts to link Skype and SIP, and they're usually pretty painful (and proprietary).

    SipToSis [mhspot.com] is a program that will allow you to have a skype "server" that will connect sip calls to skype users and vice versa. It's a bit of a pain to set up, but it walks. He also offers a set of scripts to have multiple skype clients set up, load and unload them as necessary, redirect calls, etc. It's a huge, huge hack, but it works, and is much cheaper than previous solutions of this type.

    There was apparently a beta test for an Skype channel driver for asterisk. This would allow someone to setup skype as just another input type (like a Zaptel analog phone connection, or a SIP trunk), and seemed to be the ideal solution. Either it never went anywhere, or they decided they didn't want me in the beta :(

    Gizmo also offers a Skype trunking solution, similar to what Skype seems to be offering. They call it OpenSky [gizmo5.com]. It looks like it would work pretty well for home users, but it would get pretty steep for businesses -- and how many home users would set up friggin asterisk, besides me?

    So if you're a business, OpenSky or Skype's current beta is probably what you're looking for. If you're a home user or an admin who either can't wait or has too much time on your hands, give SipToSis a try. It's a bit of a pain to set up, but it costs $2-$14 dollars one time, as opposed to everyone else, who will charge monthly or per minute.
    • by joe_cot (1011355)
      Now that I think about it more, I see one reason why Skype's SIP trunking might be better: the codec.

      The codec for SIP/Skype calls is the same idea as codecs for music files: mp3, ogg, wma, etc. You take a drop in quality in exchange for less data. And if you convert from one to another, you take another drop in quality, because each codec strips out different things.

      Any of the current solutions (SipToSis, OpenSky, etc) work by taking the output from Skype, converting it to PCM, and converting it to t
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by NormalVisual (565491)
      If you're using Vonage, or Asterisk, or most other VOIP systems/providers, your phone calls are getting coordinated over SIP

      There are an awful lot of us Asterisk folks that use IAX/IAX2 instead. *Far* better choice than SIP if it's offered by your provider.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by TooMuchToDo (882796)
        Voicepulse just discontinued their support of the IAX protocol because supposedly it didn't handle redundancy properly. Too bad they couldn't have just done a bit of work on the protocol.
        • by vlm (69642)

          Voicepulse just discontinued their support of the IAX protocol because supposedly it didn't handle redundancy properly.

          I also have no first hand knowledge, other than suffering thru the IAX to SIP conversion as a customer, but I heard the problem was IAX is too easy to get to work... It Just Works Every Time. So, their support folks were flooded with people whom were "skilled" enough to get IAX to work but had no idea how to run "vi" to configure their asterisk or how to configure their phones or just the most basic trivial stuff that comes with running a PBX.

          On the other hand, SIP is such an unholy PITA to securely run th

  • Why (Score:3, Informative)

    by silas_moeckel (234313) <silas AT dsminc-corp DOT com> on Monday March 23, 2009 @02:28PM (#27302415) Homepage

    It might be nice to let Skype callers reach you via SIP or vice versa but otherwise there software is pretty questionable and there tech is subpar. I'll take SIP with a HD codec anytime. This is good news as it seems they want to play in the phone 2.0 world with everybody else, for better or worse that world is SIP based.

    For those that dislike SIP please note that without NAT SIP works very well and NAT == Evil things should get better in IPv6 since NAT should never be needed again.

    • by AHuxley (892839)
      They have the backroom nerds via free for home mac, windows and linux solutions on their basment desktops.
      Accounts will like it
      The 'boss' will just look down at his or her best and brightest and ask if skype is 'a good solution' at this time
      Skype has done a google or classic MS, infected the geeks and positioned its self as inside a company before going for larger accounts.
      The problem is nobody knows anything about skype.
      They could be the "MS' of the voip world, all gui and marketing.
      Security sold as a
    • by hab136 (30884)

      For those that dislike SIP please note that without NAT SIP works very well

      The majority of users today are behind NAT (or in private address space with application proxies to talk to the world), so this isn't a terribly compelling argument.

      and NAT == Evil things should get better in IPv6 since NAT should never be needed again.

      IPv6 is awesome, but it isn't eliminating IPv4 any time soon (read: next 10 years). So dealing with NAT will remain a problem.

      That said, since this is a business product meant to inte

  • Skype via SIP is a nice idea, but it isn't exactly earth-shattering. The Skype guys were both smart and lucky. Having millions of users worldwide with the double-whammy of proprietary protocol and codec is not at all a bad place to be. The proprietary lock-in was good for hoarding the users, but now they are opening things up a bit to leverage that advantage.

    FWIW, FreeSWITCH has had two different Skype interfaces for the past few months. When the new SILK codec specs come out tomorrow they will no doubt b
  • The main problem is, that there is no much SIP based competition for skype on the desktop market, so they can acquire a big market share quickly with this movement. Most of the SIP based softphone looks like from the past century. There are a few good softphone that could be a viable solution near skype, for example Mizu softphone http://www.mizu-softphone.com/ [mizu-softphone.com] but unfortunately near skype/msn/yahoo marketing there is no much chance to become popular for small companies.
    • by muuh-gnu (894733)

      >there is no much chance to become popular for small companies.

      There is no much chance because....

      1. they bring absolutely nothing new to the table.
      2. No webcam support.
      3. Windows only.
      4. Proprietary.
      5. Costs money.

      > but unfortunately near skype/msn/yahoo marketing

      Oh, no, probably its solely the fact that it costs more and provides less than any of the freeware alternatives you named. (And that the GUI is kinda ugly.)

      • by kiss7 (1501315)
        > they bring absolutely nothing new to the table. they are using the open SIP protocol. this can be a big advantage > No webcam support you are wrong. HD quality video is there > Windows only yes in case of mizuphone. there are other alternatives for other platform (and all sip client can communicate with each other with no problem. can you make call from yahoo to skype?) > Proprietary. there are also opensource sip applications skype is also proprietary >Costs money Yes, if you buy from
  • I get a kick out of this line: "In a continuing sprit [sic] of openness,"

    Aside from the typo, hasn't trying to crack Skype's closed down, locked, encrypted protocol been one of the ongoing challenges in the VOIP world?

    I'm glad they're opening it up, but I suspect it's more out of fear, competition, or general business troubles that they're grasping into a slightly different market.

  • Remember skype is the friend of law enforcement around the world.
    They my not listen like an Eastern European government in the 1980's in but are very open to any interested party.
    The deeper they spread their codes and 'free' software the more end user should take care.
    If on skype always consider using a product like zfone, the opensource encryption solution.
    http://zfoneproject.com/ [zfoneproject.com]

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