Skype has become one of the most popular of the basically Open Source VoiP phone systems. In addition to their free Skype to Skype services, they offer a range of business class services. However, the platform is sometimes frustrating to use, particularly when adjustments are made and little information is provided.
Since Microsoft has purchased Skype, there may be some changes down the road that may or may not be favorable for users. For instance, Linux members have predicted the end in sight and have already been searching for alternatives. Below are three alternatives to the Skype VoIP phone system to consider.
Formerly GnomeMeeting, Ekiga can be found in many distribution channels. It provides SoftPhone, Instant Messenger and Video Conferencing applications in a Voice Over Internet platform (VoIP). What sets Ekiga apart from other Skype alternatives is that it is the first telephone services open source provider that supports both:
*H.323 – An essential and recommended ITU Telecommunication Standardization Sector that defines protocols for audio-visual communication sessions on any network. This standard provides for exceptional call, multimedia, bandwidth and signaling control. In addition, it also supports single and multiple point conferences.
*SIP – Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) is a signaling protocol that is widely used in communication control for systems such as VoIP. This protocol is essential for the creation, modification and termination of two or multi party sessions. Phone sessions may be comprised of either one or many media streams. SIP applications are also used in streaming, video and multimedia distribution, in addition to instant messaging, file transfer, presence information and online gaming.
The Empathy VoIP phone service supports messaging, text, file transfers and video chat over a variety of protocols. Because it is included in Ubuntu, it is widely recognized. Empathy is actually the default IM client of the GNOME system. As a result, virtually every distribution channel builds upon it from source. In addition to Ubuntu, it also supports:
*Most Linux distributions
Linphone has features that are very similar to the Skype VoIP phone system. Recently updated in February 2011, it now includes pause, transfer and resume functions for multiple simultaneous calls. This application also features commercial support, comes in binary and was released under the GNU GPL v2 license.
As it happens, the Free Software Foundation has apparently had the development of software replacements for Skype on its agenda for quite some time. Part of the reason for this might be the fact that the Chinese government regularly spies on Skype conversations. In any case, it may prudent to research the security systems in place for any VoIP phone system being considered.