Open alternatives to Skype
Note: this post might be considered totally useless by some as there is no clear conclusion or solution. It is a work in progress. It does, however, contain hints at nice things to do to find your own replacement for Skype.
So I’m a Belgian in Peru and I want an alternative to Skype, now that it’s been bought by Microsoft and I really don’t want to be adding to the enormous money fund of Microsoft because I think they don’t do much real good with the money (or what it’s transformed into).
A few websites tell about available alternatives (see references below), but I must admit I’m not convinced by any of these. While the most similar solution (in terms of having the possibility to contact people over the same network for free and being able to reach anywhere in the world – not for free but at a reasonable cost – with a software that is available on Linux, Mac and Windows) would be the Google Voice solution, apparently it’s not available in Peru: I invariably get to the https://www.google.com/voice/help/setupUnavailable page, which tells me I’m not eligible for a Google Voice account.
So the best solution still seems to be to hire a VoIP service that will rent you a telephone number with the possibility for you to connect to their server directly from a physical IP phone, like the excellent good-value Linksys SPA942, but you’ll have to go through a series of trial-and-errors, each time potentially loosing your local number.
Because… did you know that several countries allow you to *buy* (for life) a normal phone number, and have it linked to an IP address of your choice? That’s a very cheap deal, as you are then free from any phone service provider, and just pay to make calls, using whichever service you like. Buying the phone number is generally quite cheap. Like US$80 or so, and then you can just set it up to go through an Asterisk (VoIP) server you could set up for free.
So in the meantime we’re using WeePee, an IP Phone service which we’re happy about (although they suck at internationalizing their services – mostly they suck at having good multi-lingual support staff) as they allow us to make calls from our self-owned landline number with a reasonnable fee (still higher than Skype though, and still not making possible a large network of users like Skype does).
There has been some fuss about developing an equivalent to Skype inside the Free Software Foundation’s high priority projects, but so far it is still lacking a real implementor.
References to alternatives to Skype: