As many of you know, I have been somewhat of a Skype evangelist ever since the first time I tried it. Skype is the software that makes your computer into a video telephone for free worldwide calling.
In the past year, however, I’ve had more and more concerns over Skype’s secretive excessive use of your internet bandwidth — even when you’re not making calls. Also, I’ve been reading some very disconcerting news about Skype’s secretive and proprietary protocols, and how they may already be abusing them.
There are also reports about Skype engaging in censorship and government espionage in China — assisting the government of China in monitoring and censoring their own citizens.
Also, because Skype does not adhere to open standards, you’re really locked in to one company… with no possibility of fair and open competition. They could begin charging for the service any time they want to, and you and all of your contacts are really locked in to a certain degree.
- Skype Ethics – Why Skype is not part of Ubuntu?
- The Register: Skype censoring in China
- Financial Times: Skype says texts are censored by China
- Skype security and privacy concerns
- Skype uses excessive network resources, possibly also resources not owned by you
Meet Ekiga — my new favorite internet telephone and videoconferencing software
Now, I have a new hero: Ekiga.org
Ekiga is completely Open Source / Free – which means that it is, and always will be, free for all to use… and it will continually be improved by developers who donate their time and effort to make it better.
Even the regular telephone number is free!
Here’s what you do:
(1) If you are using a Windows computer, go to Ekiga.ORG to download the Windows version of the Ekiga software for free. If you are already using Ubuntu (which I recommend, by the way), then you already have Ekiga — it’s built-in. Simply go to “Applications–>Internet–>Ekiga Softphone” to launch it.
(2) Go to Ekiga.NET to register a new account. This will give you what is called a “SIP number”. It is like a “user ID” for the open internet telephone network. For example, mine is: sip:firstname.lastname@example.org and Ed’s is sip:email@example.com
(3) To get your own absolutely free normal telephone number assigned to your Ekiga softphone, go to IPKall.com. On this sign-up page, you’ll: (a) select an area code for your phone number, (b) where it says SIP phone number, enter the first part of your SIP number — as in my case it would be “brucewagner”, (c) for the SIP proxy, enter the last part — as in my case it would be “ekiga.net”, then enter your email address and a password and click SUBMIT. You’ll receive your new phone number in your email within moments. It should be working right away. When anyone calls it, it will ring on your computer. Mine is 206-456-0597, and Ed’s is 206-456-0585. Call us now and try it out!
Telephone service can’t get any more free than that!