Since I’ve been working mostly internationally since 1996, I’ve seen my share of high phone bills. High speed Internet connections, at hotels, at home, at Wifi hotspots all have made the Internet a more interesting place to made and receive phone calls. We have all heard of voice or IP or VOIP. Many of us have tried Vonage at home. Or if you’re a techie, you’ve downloaded Asterisk and tried to run your own PBX at home (or at the office, I’ve done both.) And since the founding of Skype in 2003, many have used it on their Macs and PCs for it’s ease of use and for it’s cost savings on international calls. BUT, the real win is the use of Skype is on a handheld, anywhere, anytime.
I purchased a Nolia E61 back in late 2006 (see post here). It has Wifi and a built-in SIP client. SIP stands for session initiation protocol and is THE VOIP standard. Great I thought. Unfortunately, Skype is proprietary and does not use SIP. I have been using the phone with Gizmo (www.gizmo5.com). HOWEVER, it takes a while to get it all setup. The phone has a horrible and difficult to manage user interface. Each time you go somewhere else, you have to go through painful setup (for Wifi and for the SIP settings.) And nobody KNOWS Gizmo. And I don’t want to run an Asterisk PBX in my home office anymore. And even if I did, I’d have to pay for outbound calls via a voice service plan. YUK. So, I use the phone now and then, primarly with other SIM cards when I am somewhere else in the world. And for the occasional cheap call back home via Gizmo.
Skype is simple, at least on my Mac it is. I have a Skype world plan which for $10 per month. I can call land lines all over the world at no additional cost and I can call mobile lines in the US, Canada, China and Singapore. For calling mobile numbers elsewhere or land lines in more remote countries, I can use Skype Out credit. UNFORTUNTELY, there is no Skype client for my Nokia E61. Only for the Nokia N810 (which will not support mobile communications.) It look great and is as easy to use on the 810 as it is on my Mac.
Well, we are almost there now. Skype for the iPhone is now here (and works on the iPod touch.) On the iPhone, you can use Skype via the Wifi part of the iPhone. COOL. BUT, you cannot use it over a mobile connection. Damn you AT&T and Apple. Skype should work well over 3G, at least for voice. Oh well.
Skype soon too will support SIP. This means that a Skype can connect with corporate phone servers that support SIP. Damn, it’s all almost there. I guess we have a few more years before Shangri-La.
I would like to buy a minimal iPod Touch, just for Wifi Skype calling. I would love to be somewhere in the world, find a free hotspot, pull out my iPod Touch and use Skype to call home. FREE. When I login to Skype, I’m a US subscription user. So, calling a mobile in Atlanta, from, say, Tokyo, via Skype on an iPod Touch, would be included in my subscription for no additional charges. Unfortunately, the iPod Touch, even with 32GB, is hardly an iPod. My iPod is 160GB. So, this device would merely be a “Skype” device. ARGHHH. I want an unlocked iPhone which supports WCDMA and HSPDA (for 3G), MMS, Skype over 3G and Wifi, Skype via SIP, with Twitter and Facebook apps, with 160GBs of space, all on a solid state drive and all for only $199 and of course on T-Mobile. Are all these vendors listening?