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Communications The Internet Technology

Phones And Skype Get Together 119

An anonymous reader writes "MSNBC has a look at some of the interesting gadgets that will be available for purchase now that Skype has published instructions on how to build the service into phones." From the article: "We saw one other innovative product at CES that is definitely worth a Skype addict's consideration. The Skype Wi-Fi phone, coming this March from Netgear, is basically a Skype cell phone. It connects to any wireless network, letting users make Skype calls completely unconnected to a PC or phone line. If it works as well as it appeared to when Netgear CEO Patrick Lo demonstrated it during a press conference by calling Skype founder Niklas Zennstrom, the little service from Luxembourg will have officially escaped from the confines of the personal computer."
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Phones And Skype Get Together

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  • Question: (Score:5, Insightful)

    by HugePedlar ( 900427 ) on Monday January 30, 2006 @06:32AM (#14597101) Homepage
    Eventually, we may all live in wi-fi enabled areas, with constant free internet access. It's already happening in some cities. If wireless IP phones take off, it's reasonable to assume we'll all be able to make free, unlimited phone calls to each other because everyone will have access.

    Will this happen, or will someone (e.g. the telcos) force regulation upon it? It seems lately that new technology that frees us up ends up being unreasonably restricted.
    • There are already wifi phones available through companies like vonage. And I was looking at some of the prices that skype charges to talk call regular phone numbers. I don't really think it will be any less expense than a regular cellphone or vonage account. Sounds good on paper but in practice it's probably still several years away.
      • Re:Question: (Score:5, Interesting)

        by HugePedlar ( 900427 ) on Monday January 30, 2006 @06:41AM (#14597118) Homepage
        Yes, calling landlines will always be chargeable (though with Skype et al it's all local rates). The point I was exploring was that when we ALL have wifi phones there'll be no need to charge at all! One has to wonder whether the phone companies will "allow" that when the technology becomes ubiquitous.
        • Re:Question: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by bfdhud ( 947470 )
          I understood your comment, I think I just got on a soapbox and did not get my thoughts in order.

          I think they (phone companies both cell and LL) will not let go so easily, and most likely they will always have some customers.

          It will probably be quite similar to email taking customers away from the post office. There will always be a need for the Post office and they are going to get their money one way or another (by raising postage, charging more for other services).
          • Re:Question: (Score:5, Interesting)

            by swillden ( 191260 ) <> on Monday January 30, 2006 @09:23AM (#14597631) Homepage Journal

            It will probably be quite similar to email taking customers away from the post office.

            I don't think postal service is a good comparison, both because there are things the postal service can do that e-mail cannot, and because e-mail *has* taken a lot of customers away from the post office.

            The postal service has two important abilities that e-mail does not. First, it can deliver physical objects. Second, it provides reliability and traceability for important communications, particularly when registered mail is used.

            Where those things don't matter, though, e-mail has largely replaced snail mail. There's a segment of the population that doesn't have or use e-mail, but it's shrinking (and aging) and will eventually disappear. Even among low-income people, e-mail use is the norm among the younger population.

            In the case of phone service, traditional phones do not have any similar advantages over VOIP. Sure, VOIP has some technical limitations at present -- many Internet connections aren't good enough to make it work well, and the 911 issue isn't fully resolved -- but those are technical problems with technical solutions. Largely, though, VOIP is a fully-functional, drop-in replacement for landline service (and, with enough WiFi hotspots, for cell service) that is more featureful and cheaper.

            So, no, I don't the growth and usage of VOIP will in any way parallel the history of e-mail.

            There is one element of e-mail's history that may affect VOIP, though: spam. The telephonic equivalent of spam, telemarketing, is pretty well managed at the moment. It's mildly annoying, but thanks to the fact that the telecommunications industry is centralized in a few companies, it can be regulated and managed with things like the "Do Not Call" lists and other rules about who telemarketers can call, and when. The most important factor that keeps telemarketing from being too much of annoyance, though, is cost. In particular it's far too expensive to conduct it from other countries in order to sidestep the regulations.

            Both of those elements disappear with pure VOIP calls. Not only would VOIP spam be dirt cheap (especially with recorded calls -- no need to pay a person to talk to the targets), but it would be cost-effective to do it from nations where regulatory force cannot be applied.

            However, VOIP is young enough that we have a chance to implement anti-spam technology into the foundations of the technology. We understand the dynamics of spam pretty well from the e-mail world, and people are already talking about what we should do to prevent SIP spam. If SIP spam can be avoided or minimized, then I think VOIP can be a perfect replacement for traditional phone service, unlike e-mail, which can never quite replace postal service.

        • Re:Question: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Firehed ( 942385 )
          You can't stop the signal.

          Though I suppose they can find some way to charge for it. I think we're being a bit too optimistic, no matter how good the idea is for everyone but the telcos. That's the problem with capitalism - free just doesn't work for the greedy. I could probably think of a dozen ways they could charge for it, but say even if it's $5/mo for the "phone port" on otherwise free wifi, it's still hella cheaper than your current long distance. At least if you make more than one call per month

    • Re:Question: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by log2.0 ( 674840 )
      I don't think there is anything they can do to stop it. Information transfer is now relatively free and fast.

      This is the next logical step. I'm amazed that it's still taking this long!
      • Fond Memories (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Kadin2048 ( 468275 ) <slashdot,kadin&xoxy,net> on Monday January 30, 2006 @09:43AM (#14597730) Homepage Journal
        Information transfer is now relatively free and fast.

        Enjoy it while it lasts. Given the lobbying currently going on by the telecommunications companies, and the relative perceived ignorance/apathy of Internet users, I think we're quickly racing towards a future where how much you pay directly affects not only the speed at which you can get information (as it does currently) but also your quality-of-service and connection priority.

        You already pay extra if you want a static IP. You pay more than that if you want a synchronous connection where you can send and receive at the same speed. In some cases more than that, if you want certain ports unblocked so you can run a server. The 'two tier' internet already exists in terms of who can distribute information by running a server and who can't; eventually we're going to have that on the receiving side as well. You want to open a ton of connections and do P2P? Extra fee. You want a low-latency connection for doing streaming video or internet telephony? Definitely an extra fee.

        I have a feeling that at some point, we're going to look back at these early days of 'all-you-can-eat' Internet access for all, with a certain nostalgia. We're already looking back fondly on the days when anyone could set up a server on their cable modem in their basement.

        If you want a look at where the future is headed, take a look at Australia. They used to have unlimited-access internet plans there, but they practically don't exist anymore (I'm told), at least at the consumer level. Instead there are plans with varying levels of bandwidth/transfer caps.

        Going forward, once the packet filtering systems get a little better and a little more widespread, you're going to start seeing plans that limit transfer by type: you get unlimited transfer to your ISP's "preferred" VoIP carrier, but if you want to use your own, that'll be $15 extra a month. Same with streaming video and internet radio. "Unknown" and encrypted traffic will be capped or throttled -- so don't try to just tunnel it.

        While on the backbones we may have a "two-tier Internet," to the consumer there are going to be many subtle gradations that make up the tiers. It's going to be just like a cell phone: the most basic service costs one thing, but everything extra you want to do with it costs more.

        I don't think there's really any good way to avoid this. The Internet is becoming bigger and bigger business, and at the same time the companies that effectively control it are under more and more pressure to find new ways of squeezing revenue from their assets. Given that the government is pretty toothless when it comes to dealing with large corporations and their lobbying arms, I don't think that our children will have anywhere near the unlimited access to information that we've gotten used to lately. At least, not unless we buy it for them.
        • +4 Funny? WTH, mods, there wasn't a joke in there. Insightful, I'd say.
        • Then you have companies like Google who are pushing to go in a completely different direction than everything you said.

          I think that people will TRY to do what you say, but I do think its "FUNNY" because I couldn't disagree more how wrong I think you are about the future.
      • Sure there is. You might have also thought that there was no way to stop Napster -- and today we have both users and companies being sued.

        The easiest thing, at least in America, would be for the TelCos to require anyone who runs a Wi-Fi access point and doesn't take steps to block Skype to provide for e-911 service. It might even get to the point where you need to pay a bundle of fees when you buy a Skype phone.

        Of course, that might not STOP it, seeing as how an unmetered cell phone is still worthwhile ev
    • Re:Question: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by hamza.hydri ( 948906 )
      "It seems lately that new technology that frees us up ends up being unreasonably restricted." Definitely true .... It would interesting to see how Skype changes the Wi-Fi market with its policies.
    • I don't think that will ever be really possible. Hardly anything is free these days. It will just somehow become a more obscure cost, like part of the common taxes or something, cause at the end of the day someone will still have to take care of the infrastructure and keep it in working condition.
      • Yea but the cost of the infrastructure is slashed severely by this method, therefore the cost to the customer might be an extra 2-3 on their broadband connection bill because the ISPs have increased, (but not drastically increased )loads on their networks.
    • What you can expect is that the Landline Phone Industry Association, LPIA, will begin a propaganda war against the wi-fi phone users, bringing back the phone phreaking icons to convince Congress that this wi-fi phone phreaking is destroying society and endangering the youth the same way as drugs and rock and roll.
      They will cite examples where someone uses one of these untraceable and unmonitored wi-fi phones to buy drugs while listening to rock music published by indie labels or worse yet, stolen from the
      • by arivanov ( 12034 ) on Monday January 30, 2006 @08:19AM (#14597320) Homepage
        If Skype gets anywhere close to mainstream it will be forced to provide mandatory legal intercept without any need for inventing fantom associations. This will be regardless of its use for drug dealing or not.

        And here comes the most interesting bit. In order to provide legal intercept capabilities it will have to provide law enforcement access via a remote control interface to computers serving as supernodes in the P2P network. These computers are not even owned by Skype and may be outside the jurisdiction of the party requesting intercept. In fact intercepting on them may be illegal in the country where they are located. This is bound to get very entertaining at some point sooner or later.

        And by the way using specially dedicated nodes for legal intercept only will not work because one of the requirements for legal intercept in telephony is that it should not be noticeable to either party in the conversation. A node located in a strange place will very happily show up in the netstat on both Linux and Windows and writing a utility which shows which address block is the supernode you are connected to is a piece of cake.
        • I imagine it will be more like the way we trace e-mail or RSA encrypted communication: we just gain a moment of physical access to the perp's machine, install some sort of spyware and leave.
          • If both perps are using wireless phones as the ones referred in the article this is likely to be unfeasible. This is why law enforcement requires lawful intercept capabilities in the actual network equipment, not end-user terminals. And with skype it is not getting it for the time being.
    • Free as in idiot? (Score:2, Insightful)

      by MosesJones ( 55544 )
      constant free internet access

      Let me get this straight, you think that in future access to the internet will be completely free. So who will pay for the wireless access points, for the people to install them, to maintain them and for the monitoring of them? Some one will have to... or do you mean that internet access is an right granted by the US Constitution? If you are talking about goverment provided internet access for all then this is NOT free its paid for my the tax-payer.

      It really gets my goat that
      • It really gets MY goat that some people make stupid assumptions about others. FYI I live in England where healthcare IS free for everyone.

        Of course, free healthcare is provided by the government and therefore by taxpayers, but so is anything "free" like tarmac roads, schools and sanitation.

        Free internet access (taxpayer funded or otherwise) IS something to aim for, but NOT at the expense of healthcare or anything else - who suggested it was? Not me, that's for sure.
        • FYI I live in England where healthcare IS free for everyone.

          Wrong (to some extent). Generally hospital and doctors are "free" (read - paid for by the tax payer). However, there is no provision for situations when the NHS can't provide the service they are supposed to. I.e. if no NHS dentist will allow you to register (this is the case in much of the UK due to many NHS dentists going private) then you have to pay for private dentistry out of your own pocket. Despite it being _impossible_ to get the NHS s
        • free healthcare? So the UK pays for your medical bills but not dental. weird. :D
      • The Internet access might not be free; but if we can use modems over the Skype connection for our access, it will lower the price!

        Also, when Power Over Ethernet becomes ubiquitous, we'll be able to use that to keep our wifi gear charged up *while we are using it*.

        Now, if only I can fix this strange recursion bug in my code...
    • Nothing in life is free pal. Right now you might be dreaming of
      some hippie nirvana when internet access costs nothing but meanwhile
      back in the real world someone has to pay for the infrastructure
      and electricity to run it. That money might come from future access
      charges , it might come from a few extra pennies on the price of
      your coffee down at $tarbucks while you use their access point.
      But trust me , you WILL pay for it somehow even if you're not aware
      of it.
    • Too few frequencies (Score:3, Informative)

      by Kadin2048 ( 468275 )
      Er, no we won't. Not with the current bandwidth and channels available.

      Personal example: I live in an urban area, and there are already a ton of problems with too many 802.11b setups running on the same channels. Given that there are really only three totally independent channels (where you don't get overlap), it's quite easy to have an area where you should have service, but don't because of collisions between networks.

      When my internet at home went down a few weeks ago (due to an unfortunate incident invol
    • Well even if no regulation are posted internet access will always cost something.. Its not like the telcos can maintain the lines for free. It will be interesting to see the day when telcos are forced to charge MORE for bandwidth (as the trend latly is bandwidth is getting cheaper and cheaper) in order to stay in buisness.
    • Eventually, we may all live in wi-fi enabled areas, with constant free internet access.

      You mean like we have constant cellular access? Come on, how long have they been doing cellular and we still can not get constant cellular access.
  • by Ohreally_factor ( 593551 ) on Monday January 30, 2006 @06:40AM (#14597114) Journal
    But does it play ogg?

    • I'd think Speex was the better one to ask about here...
    • I've already got an ogg enabled wireless skype phone. My spv m500 can connect to the interweb through my pc (via bluetooth) and use skype pocket pc beta to make the calls.

      It's actually pretty rubbish but you can tell it really wants to work...I know it's not true wireless but there aren't any wires connected, admittedly you have to be in a 10m range of the PC and the bandwidth is gash but hey, this is my first /. post so who cares!
    • Ogg may make open source people feel good, but it's a terrible way to go. I encoded a bunch of my music in ogg and now can only use it in open source players and winamp. I have transitioned to encoding to aac. There's open source implimentations. The quality is good. And you can play it with most devices that are not mp3/wma only.
  • Picture and info (Score:5, Informative)

    by Zaffo ( 755234 ) on Monday January 30, 2006 @06:41AM (#14597117)
    More about the phone (including a link to a large, print-quality image) can be seen at Netgear's site: []
  • Any sip account (Score:4, Interesting)

    by cra ( 172225 ) on Monday January 30, 2006 @06:42AM (#14597119) Homepage
    I'd love to have a phone like this that I could set up to use a sip server. Then I could use my "Home phone" from any WiFi point. Get enough WiFi points and I could even trash my good ol' cell phone. Well, almost. ;-)
  • by Anonymous Coward
    If we're lucky, these WIFI cell-phones will embarrass WIFI providers into actually making their networks useable. As things stand, a WIFI cell-phone will suck utterly compared with a "real" cell.
  • What we need is... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 30, 2006 @06:46AM (#14597126)
    Someone just needs to write an open-source SIP/IAX Skype gateway so I can use my SIP phone (now available super-cheap) w/Skype. I see there is one [] out there, but it's windows only, thirty bucks, and closed source.

    Asterisk support for Skype, now there would be something!

    • by dpoulson ( 132871 ) <daz&22balmoralroad,net> on Monday January 30, 2006 @07:09AM (#14597170) Homepage Journal
      Definately. I'm still waiting.

      There's quite a bounty now to have a skype channel in Asterisk. Up to $1545 USD now.

    • I had an Email from them saying that they are making one gateway for linux too. But of course it will be limited to one call, closed source, and with the level of support Skype is providing.

      Personally I am switching to normal SIP phones/services.

      If you are not bothered by having an italian operator you could use (no, I am not from skypho, I am just a user)

    • Someone just needs to write an open-source SIP/IAX Skype gateway so I can use my SIP phone (now available super-cheap) w/Skype.

      The question is: why would you want to? The only think Skype seem to have got right is the marketting, seems much more sane to use SIP since it is the industry standard rather than being stuck with a propriatory protocol with a questionable QoS.
  • WEP Encryption... (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    ...AFAIK we should be going to WPA/WPA2 because there are a couple of nice vulns in WEP.

    The site states though "nobody will be able to be listening in"...
    • Re:WEP Encryption... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Yaztromo ( 655250 ) on Monday January 30, 2006 @07:07AM (#14597167) Homepage Journal
      The site states though "nobody will be able to be listening in"...

      This is because Skype already has its own encryption layer. An attacker might be able to do something annoying once they crack the WEP encryption (such as interjecting packets), but they won't be able to listen in to your conversation without then breaking the Skype packet encryption (which is probably stronger than WEP).

      However, I do share a general annoyance with devices that don't support WPA/WPA2. My wireless network is completely WPA2 based, and I have one device which does, at best, WEP. My current solution has been to disallow this device (a Palm Tungsten C) from connecting to my network by continuing to run WPA2, which is an annoyance (as it means I can't use its WiFi functionality in my home). Device manufacturers need to wake up to the fact that WPA and WPA2 are a reality, and that their devices need to support these modern standards alongside WEP.


      • Everyone seems to trust in the magical Skype encryption, but I've never seen any evidence to suggest that it's anything other than pixie dust. Quite the opposite [], in fact:

        Would [Zennstrom] make Skype open-source? No - that would make its strong 1024 bit encryption and security vulnerable: "We could do it but only if we re-engineered the way it works and we don't have the time right now."

    • by c0l0 ( 826165 )
      Yeah, WEP is often referred to as Weakest Enrcyption Possible not completely without reason ;)
    • It's at least as secure as the unprotected telco box on the side of my house with no windows. Or real cell phones. Or any private citizen's speechifying device under the Bush administration.
  • One problem.... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by dpoulson ( 132871 ) <daz&22balmoralroad,net> on Monday January 30, 2006 @06:55AM (#14597148) Homepage Journal
    There's no WPA support according to the FAQ. Also, how does it handle captive portals? Maybe it has a built in web browser, but I can't find any mention of it.

    Maybe we need to convince more hotspot providers to allow free skype calls!

    Anyway, wifi is still pretty rare around me, unless you want to 'borrow' home users connections, and thats getting quite dicey now.

  • Oh, well... (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    I knew I should have moved from Germany to Luxembourg. Smaller country == less political-assholes-that-like-to-restrict-shit-for- no-official-reason.

    Now I'll have to wait for 10 years before they let us have it.
  • new song. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by supernova87a ( 532540 ) < minus language> on Monday January 30, 2006 @07:00AM (#14597155)
    "ding dong, telecoms are dead!"

    Who's crapping their pants now?

    step 1. Old telecom companies notice their revenue dropping like stones.
    step 2. old telecom companies attempt to preserve unsustainable revenue streams by limiting the bandwidth of competitors on their networks
    step 3. Customers sue over equal access to networks
    step 4. company such as Google kicks their asses by offering free, unrestricted wifi in every major city around the world
    step 5. old telecom companies stop whining and do what they should've done in the first place

    couldn't they have saved the trouble?
    • step 6. ??? step 7. PROFIT!!!!!!
    • step 4. company such as Google kicks their asses by offering free, unrestricted wifi in every major city around the world

      Can you see why regulation is necessary here? If companies like Google are allowed to cherrypick the most profitable customers, where does this leave the telcos? Do they seek approval to drastically raise prices to their remaining unprofitable customers, or does the government hold them to current regulations, sending them bankrupt and leaving those customers without any means of commu

      • If you're not paying them anything, you're not their customer, so I don't see in what sense this consititutes cherry-picking customers.
        • If you're not paying them anything, you're not their customer, so I don't see in what sense this consititutes cherry-picking customers.

          You missed the point. Everyone in the US pays a similar price for phone service. The costs to provide a line in dense urban areas is less than spread out rural areas. If competition cherry picks the most profitable customers from the existing phone companies, then the price for phone service will increase for everyone else left, and no one will compete for their service
    • Why would they be crapping their pants? This sounds neat and all until I remember there just isn't wifi access all over the place. My cell phone will continue to be incredibly reliable compared with finding wifi points to use with a sip/skype phone. In pretty much any developed area I can pull out my cellphone and use it. Even in NYC, there is little to wifi access anywhere, and where there is, you have to pay for it through a web interface. I don't see how a phone like this could work without the infr
    • you're asuming that skype and VOIP will catch on. VOIP is still really bad, probably because phone companies kill VOIP traffic (i have no clue). This phone is not so hot as it seems. I mean, how do you connect to places like Starbucks hot spots? Or WPA routers? I mean, it says it uses WEP for security... that's just silly, WEP is so highly breakable. I don't know... you're underestimating the telecoms and overestimating VOIP.
  • Problem (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ajs318 ( 655362 ) <`sd_resp2' `at' `'> on Monday January 30, 2006 @07:19AM (#14597189)
    There is a problem with this because, underneath it all, Skype is still a proprietary, closed technology. This creates an unacceptable barrier to anyone looking to enter the marketplace: competition is not fair and free.

    It's absolutely inconceivable that in a civilised country, anyone should have to licence "intellectual property" from anyone else just to do their job. This is nothing short of privatised taxation.

    The telephone network -- indeed, all public infrastructures, be they roads, railways, sewers, power lines or hospitals -- exists for the benefit of Society at Large, all of us, not just those who pay money to private corporations; and it is the place of governments -- as our elected representatives whose wages we pay -- to ensure that everyone has the ability to benefit therefrom.
    • Re:Problem (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Yaztromo ( 655250 ) on Monday January 30, 2006 @07:46AM (#14597247) Homepage Journal
      It's absolutely inconceivable that in a civilised country, anyone should have to licence "intellectual property" from anyone else just to do their job. This is nothing short of privatised taxation.

      That's odd -- last I checked, I can call SkypeIn users from my GPS Cell phone, the POTS pay phone up the street, and from my Vonage account.

      There are standards in this world for telephone systems, and Skype has to follow them in order to be accessable both to and from the rest of the world. It isn't as if Skype is the only telephony solution around, or like anyh Government is forcing its citizens to replace their existing telephony technologies for Skype.

      Skype being propretiary is a problem, but not for the reasons you give. If you want to compete against Skype, it's not a problem -- Gizmo [] seems to be making a go of it without any serious problems. So long as Skype intergrates with the rest of the International telephony network, there is no problem -- competing with them won't be impossible at all, and won't require you to license anything from them.

      Also on Skype's side is that at least they appear ready and willing to license their technology to a variety of hardware manufacturers.

      The big problems with Skype being propretary are:

      1. Platforms Skype Ltd. isn't interested in targeting won't be able to connect to Skype's network (at least without some software developer licensing the protocols from them). If you're on OS/2 and want to run Skype, you're SOL, and always will be.
      2. You have to trust Skype Ltd's security analysis of their encryption and associated protocols. Much of Skype's protocols are currently "security by obscurity", and while they may well be up to the task, it's hard to prove this point due to a lack of source code,
      3. You have to count on Skype Ltd. to improve the product over time, and have no ability to do so yourself.

      This might come as a shock to some, but some people are okay with such things. Personally it's not for me -- I have Skype installed for those times when I must communicate with other Skype users (although given the choice I prefer iChat AV, or the X-Pro softphone that is attached to my Vonage account when I need to call a normal phone system user from my laptop while away from home), but otherwise wouldn't use it as my primary telephone system. But not all people are me, and not everybody cares so much about the use of open standards, so long as they get what they pay for and the cost is low.

      So in conclusion I agree witth you that closed protocols are bad, but in this case not for the reasons you have given. The underlying telephone system is sufficiently open that any Skype-competitor can arrive on the scene and doesn't have to pay Skype a single penny for the privledge.


      • First, thanks for pointing out some stuff I omitted to mention as "obvious". The points you mention about alternative platform support, security by obscurity and lack of improvability all spring directly from closedness of source. I forgot to mention them because {in my mind} they are so tightly bound together, but maybe they are worth mentioning again in their own right.

        Secondly, your assertion that "some people are okay with such things" may be true -- but for how long? It's been shown that some ki
      • That's odd -- last I checked, I can call SkypeIn users from my GPS Cell phone, the POTS pay phone up the street, and from my Vonage account.
        its a bit like cell providers offering free calls to phones on thier own cell network. sure you can call cross network but doing so costs money.

        in other words networks both cell and VOIP (and possiblly landline depending on the local regulatory environment) have a monopoly on cheap/free access to users on thier network and people select thier providers based on that NOT
    • Well, someone else is always allowed to generate a competing product and release that standard to the world to use. The first phones weren't open source. The inventor has a right to recover some profit, as much as the market will bear. My car isn't open source. GM and Ford build a product that does the same general function, but there are IP rights in the product and I can't copy their design 100% and build a Monkey Motors unit.
      Man, I wonder what kind of following I could get for Monkey Motors Car?
      • The first phones were not exactly closed-source either, though. Anyone who grokked the physics involved {about O-level standard} could have built their own phone.

        Of course, electromagnetism then was pretty advanced stuff; more like quantum physics today, so probably there weren't that many people that would have understood how a telephone works. But nobody was deliberately seeking to obscure how it worked, either.
    • I find that you can get better pricing from standard SIP providers like SPANTALK (E.g. 10c untimed calls to Australia), and even the voice quality. Unfortunately, generic SIP clients are much harder to set up. For what ever reason SPANTALK doesn't work with kphone/linphone etc, but only really works with xtensoftphone. However... xtensoftphone has roughly 100 configureation options, all with non-standard names, and if they are wrong the only feedback you get is that it just doesn't work. It took me several
    • Yeah, I agree, now Skype seems really cheap.
      And compared to Telcos it is. But when they get a monopoly - not so much.
      Kinda like how Microsoft freed us from the shackles of mainframes only to later enslave us (Sorry about the melodramatic language)

      Gizmo [] is standards based.

      • What I can see happening in the future is for telephone calls to be routinely and rudely interrupted for advertising. Eventually this will be tied in with speech recognition. You'll be chatting to someone and mention that you haven't had a chance to get away this year when .....

        You used the word "holiday". Book your holiday in the Mediterranean with FooCruise and save pounds! To receive a free FooCruise Mediterranean Summer holidays brochure press ONE. To receive a FooSnow Ski-ing brochure press TWO.

  • Skype and linux? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 30, 2006 @07:19AM (#14597191)
    Skype under linux completely sucks. It seems after ebay took over skype, they chucked out the support for linux so much so that it doesnt work at all. Check this out 0e30a3a5027922776d84bb7906d8bf1 []

    Skype, wake me up when you have fixed the audio bug, otherwise go to the DOGS
    • Since this is slashdot & all I'd just like to point out that Skype worked fine for me under Linux, but under Windows XP (my sister's machine, honest!) I had huge troubles. First, the microsoft SP2 bluetooth stack doesn't support audio devices, (but does support interfereing with installing of the pre SP2 driver for my device, and the manufacturer went out of business before they released an SP2 compatible driver). Then it decided it didn't want to talk to the regular sound card either. YMMV ofcourse.
    • Ebay has a hard on for Windows. They have an obvious disdain for Linux.
      They were emailing me auction updates with links that didn't work for Linux people using Kmail. Had to do with them embedding webbugs into the html email.
      An absolute pain in the ass.
      I complained about it in the ebay forums and was met with total silence.
      Another thing I complained about was their lack of a auction generator for Linux such as turbo lister. Again, more silence.

      Ebay couldn't give two shits and half a fart about Linux peop
    • What are you talking about?
      I was on it last night from mandriva and it worked great.
      I think it even comes on the bas install.
    • I completely agree. I used to love using Skype on Linux up to Suse 9.3. With the release of Suse 10, their Linux client plain sucks as it makes use of OSS rather than ALSA.

      Considering that OSS has been long deprecated and that Skype has been promising an updated linux client for months and months, I see very little hope for Skype on Linux.

      Unfortunately, I made the mistake of buying both Skype-out credit and a Skype-in phone number.

      If they improve, I might use them again. If not, as soon as my skype-in phone
  • by LinuxParanoid ( 64467 ) * on Monday January 30, 2006 @07:38AM (#14597235) Homepage Journal
    I puchased an HP ipaq 6315 a year ago which was one of the first mobile phones to have classic cell phone service, GPRS internet, WiFi and bluetooth all in the same device. Here's what I've observed and learned, the first of which relates directly to Wi-Fi phone calling:

        1) I tried making WiFi calls with Skype running on the MS PocketPC OS 2002. I *was* able to make a Skype call over WiFi... but I couldn't really hear much more than a word or two from the other person and lots of garble. Basically it was disappointingly unusable. I am not sure whether the slow 3-400MHz CPU is the problem or the nature of the non-optimizal internet connection and signalling overhead (I suspect the former). But I tried repeatedly, and I tried to move to be closer to the WiFi source with no positive effect. So this may not work great on mobile phones today. YMMV and "tomorrow" is a different story of course.

        2) The cell phone seems to end up in wierd states that need rebooting. This happened once every few months with my Palm-based Treo, but has annoyingly, and ironically according to Microsoft stereotype, definitely been a once a week-type issue with my PocketPC phone. *Most* annoying is when it happens when you're on a call and you get a second inbound call and then system then gives you an unending series of dialog boxes in confusion. (By rebooting I really mean a "soft reset" where you need to push a thin object into a hole.) To be fair to Microsoft, it may be true that some fraction of those hangs might be due to bugs in the apps that lead to a platform-level hang. *But*, I can't cut MS too much slack because the MS platform doesn't give me a way to kill/restart the app it seems. (Note: I haven't had time to spend the hours necessary to research and get to the bottom of this.)

        3) The cell-phone seems to lie about signal strength at times; it might show full signal but then right after I dial, it shrinks to two bars. I thought it might be a limitation of how polling/powersaving works, but in any case, I've found that I can't necessarily trust the "bar" ratings, even when I'm stationary, to describe signal strength until I actually make a call. I have zero idea whether this is caused by my phone, or just random emi interference, or the carrier or whether others have this same issue.

        4) My favorite feature on both my Treo Palm and the PocketPC phone has been the ability to sync contacts on my phone with contacts on my PC (in MS Outlook, which I use for contacts but not for email.)

        5) My second favorite feature has been the free downloadable musician tools available on the platform. (The selection was stronger on the Palm-based Treo.) I.e. metronome, tuner, and guitar chord charts. It's just very cool, since I always have my cell phone with me, that I also thus always have guitar chord charts in a pinch.

    YMMV but here are the lessons I shelled out too much bucks to learn so I pass them along to my fellow Slashdotters.

    • I puchased an HP ipaq 6315 a year ago which was one of the first mobile phones to have classic cell phone service, GPRS internet, WiFi and bluetooth all in the same device.

      Not to pedantically quibble, but Nokia's 9500 has been doing the same thing for at least two, now.

      • Yeah, Nokia has nice cutting-edge stuff. I said "one of the first" precisely because I couldn't remember who else was doing what; I don't follow this stuff for a living, or even really as a dedicated hobby. Call me diletante.

        My last purchasing decision was partially based on trying to figure out how a Windows(and Java) app I designed might work/notwork on the new platform; Nokia doesn't run Windows so I wasn't paying much attention in my last round of experimental cell phone decisions. That said, my exper
      • I wish sprint would get with the program and offer some truely innovative phones. They bearly even have bluetooth support. I would desparately like a cell phone that did both wifi SIP, VOIP, or skype calling and cell phone calls. (Nor would it really hurt sprint because most of my home calls are after my unlimited nights and weekends cutoff.) But sprints phones are severely lacking in this arena.
    • "was disappointingly unusable. I am not sure whether the slow 3-400MHz CPU is the problem "

      If a 400Mhz CPU is too slow to do simple analogue audio D-A and A-D
      converstion then the software is *seriously* badly written.

      " I can't cut MS too much slack because the MS platform doesn't give me a way to kill/restart the app it seems."

      You shouldn't cut *anY* slack to someone who provides phone
      software that crashes. Someone might need a phone to save their life
      one day. A GPF or equivalent in the middle of an emergen
      • If a 400Mhz CPU is too slow to do simple analogue audio D-A and A-D converstion then the software is *seriously* badly written.

        Keep in mind that Skype-to-Skype calls are encrypted, which requires a lot of processing power. Not a problem for modern PCs, but it could be too much for this ipaq model.
        On a related note: Skype doesn't seem to care much about optimizing their software. I'm sometimes calling a friend who has a G4 600 Mhz and he told me that whenenver he is having a conversation Skype consumes mor

        • ... think about it, the founder of skype was also the founder of napster.. big on distributed computing models/..

          perhaps the actual financial basis for skype is distributed computing-- who would know about it?

          it could be something as simple as working on an RSA challenge while you talk..

          every call, the system hooks into skype, passes call information fwd & backward, a few bytes as to which leg of the math problem needs work, and then the pc runs at 80% the whole time?
    • I have an Acer N50 PDA with a 500MHz CPU and Skype really does work just fine. So does SJphone [] (SIP softphone) which can also make pretty good calls although seems more sensitive to weak wireless signal.
    • The cell-phone seems to lie about signal strength at times; it might show full signal but then right after I dial, it shrinks to two bars.

      So I'm not the only one? Using my Motorola v551 on Cingular's network in Seattle, in my house I would often show 2 or 3 bars (out of 5)... not that good, but I should be able to make a call, right? Wrong. About 1 in 3 times, as soon as I hit the send button, the bars would drop to zero and the call would not complete.

      Something recently changed (Cingular put up a new si
  • Office VoIP WiFi (Score:3, Interesting)

    by bulach ( 810605 ) on Monday January 30, 2006 @07:41AM (#14597240)
    I wonder how long before offices around the world will start using WiFi-based phones backed by * instead of regular, wired PBX.
    • My school (of all places) has totally replaced its PBX with a Cisco VoIP network, and are in the process of installing WiFi over the entire site. Once this is done, all the IT techs are moving to the Cisco WiFi VoIP phones as opposed to the networked desk phones.

      Not quite *, but a definate improvement over PBX. Even better, they plan to ditch our current PoS ISP and let 6th Form students and staff freeload off the network. Finally a way to VPN my laptop out to home from school short of stealing a network so
  • by blankoboy ( 719577 ) on Monday January 30, 2006 @07:49AM (#14597254)
    I am suprised that no development house (or Nintendo themselves) has yet to start developing Skype for the DS (or have they?).

    Handheld wi-fi device already in the hands of millions
    application with an installed user base of million
    Millions of happy people talking to each other over SkypeDS!!

    ....not to mention many more units of the DS sold!

    /yes, we know that Nintendo already showed off a Skype-ish application with Wario on screen prior to the DS release.
    /yes, we know about DSspeak but alas it doesn't have the installed userbase of Skype.
  • by honeypea ( 556690 ) on Monday January 30, 2006 @07:54AM (#14597269) Homepage

    I keep seeing comments that Skype is "Luxembourg-based". Skype's legal headquarters are (were, pre-Ebay?) based in Luxembourg for tax reasons, but just about nothing else is as far as I understood it. Estonians wrote the code, and it's touted as a big success story in Estonia. The co-founders are a Swede and a Dane. Newsweek might see minimal legal headquarters as being the basis to call it its base, but from a Slashdot readership's perspective, you'd think you'd want to know where the developers are, and what they're doing now.

    It's probably safest to say "EU-based". But I think Estonia at least needs a nod.

    • Skype's legal headquarters are (were, pre-Ebay?) based in Luxembourg for tax reasons, but just about nothing else is as far as I understood it.

      Exactly. That's the only reason they are here (I live in Luxembourg). Many other tech companies have their "HQ" in Luxembourg. Essentially it's only a PO Box, or a small office with one employee.

      Amazon is "Luxembourg" based, but you cannot buy electronics from them to be shipped into Luxembourg. Apple is also "Luxembourg" based, but they don't even have an

  • Free Skype? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Jacek Poplawski ( 223457 ) on Monday January 30, 2006 @08:02AM (#14597286)
    Is there any project to create Free Software application compatible with Skype protocol? I don't like Skype interface, and can't find any alternative UI...
    • Is there any project to create Free Software application compatible with Skype protocol?

      No, Skype's protocol is proprietary, so no FOSS Skype clients can be written.
  • Maybe all of these companies should be a little more careful about jumping on the wifi bandwagon. Although wifi is now quite mature what would happen to all these wifi solutions if say it was found to cause cancer, loss of hair or whatever, well the answers to that would be there would be a mad rush to go back to wires for the well informed and then it would slowly start a rewiring revolution. I'm not saying that will happen but if it did it would be devastating. Also may it be worth companies investing p
    • ...what would happen to all these wifi solutions if say it was found to cause cancer...

      probably pretty much the same thing as happens in the face of evidence that mobile phone networks do: we get vendors and industry associations to sponsor studies that find the opposite to be true. we thereby ensure that the entire question gets so tired and muddled well before finding anything resembling a scientifically useful answer that folks interested in digging deeper are either discouraged or labeled cranks.

  • skype LD & 411 free (Score:3, Informative)

    by digitaldc ( 879047 ) * on Monday January 30, 2006 @08:31AM (#14597371)
    Free 411 and LD on Skype []

    Just passing this along the information superhighway.
  • by samwire ( 138557 ) on Monday January 30, 2006 @08:54AM (#14597474) Homepage
    Haven't seen much mention of this so far.

    These wireless handsets, as has been previously pointed out, have been available for SIP networks for quite some time, along with decent wired handsets which also don't require a PC to be switched on. One good (albeit expensive) wireless SIP phone is the Hitachi WIP-5000 which has regular firmware updates including support for new features like WPA.

    The main drawback with most of these phones, though, is not just the lack of support for new security standards like WPA (many, like the skype phone, support WEP only). The biggest problem, at least here in the UK (I dunno if it's different elsewhere), is that most of the wi-fi hotspot providers do not run encryption at all. Instead, they have an open network but require you to login through a webpage, in order to bill you. This technology is fine for laptops and PDAs with web browsers but makes such phones utterly useless* except when you're at home or you're lucky enough to have a workplace which supports standard wi-fi.

    I'm sure someone will come up with a wifi sip phone with a browser eventually (Nokia's new E-series supports wi-fi, so that's promising) but, at the moment, the handsets are very expensive and not being able to use them at most UK wifi hotspots is a major drawback.


    * In theory, you could clone the MAC address to a laptop, sign in with that and then swop to the phone, but that's obviously far too much hassle for real usage.
  • ...I'm just waiting for a skype.conf to appear in my /etc/asterisk directory. ;)
  • I'm serious. The future is the iPod.

    It already has a H.264 decoder. All it needs now is a H.264 encoder, one of those swanky macbook cameras in the top and wi-fi card and we got ourselves the ultimate iChat client device.
  • There are a few major challenges that Skype faces and will likely relegate it to a popular but, not ubiquitous application.

    1. Quality of service from Public Wi-Fi - There is no guarantee the access point won't be saturated or have sufficient bandwidth to support the number of users trying to use the acces point.
    2. Carrier Grade WiFi infrastructure will be owned by those who will take a dim outlook on having their income eaten by free calls. Traffic will be "shaped" to make the quality less than existin
  • Its like Skype only uses SIP. It also includes free voicemail which is kinda cool. Mails a .wav file with the message to the email message you have associated with your SIP Id. It also supports unlimited conference participants where as skype only supports someone hosting with 4 other individuals. You can purchase a SIP router to tie it into your home telephone system for as much as one of those Skype phones costs. Its by the same guy who started Linspire. THe only thing that I don't like is that the
  • No one has yet to answer this question, but will these phones automatically know when one wireless network is out of range and switch to another? If no then this product is bunk. It's only good if you're staying in one place.
  • The article also forgot to mention a CES highlight from YapperNut: The YapperMouse []. A USB mouse that doubles as a skype phone for $39.95

    Looks promising imo...
  • Although it isn't that expensive and the cost [] is apparently applicable only if you are calling someone who doesn't have Skype. I suspect that somebody will be paying more in the future if their is wide-spread use of this service.

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