The Null Device
Posts matching tags 'voip'
Details have emerged of how the Bavarian police intercept Skype calls and encrypted internet traffic. Apparently they use specially written malware, from a company named Digitask. The malware needs to be installed on the suspect's computer (which can be done in a number of ways; if they can't get a black-bag team in, they can send an email carrying the trojan. Looks like Bavaria's safe from criminals who use Windows then.
It's a good day for open standards; firstly, Yahoo (partly) embraces OpenID and Microsoft commit to opening their document formats, and now AOL are moving AIM and ICQ to the XMPP protocol. They now have an experimental XMPP server at xmpp.oscar.aol.com, with usernames being the user's AIM ID or ICQ number followed by @aol.com. They also seem to have a SIP server at sip.oscar.aol.com. Could this be the end of proprietary, locked-in IM networks and the start of an age in which IM is a commodity service, running on open standards, much like email?
Gizmodo reviews the Belkin WiFi Skype phone (which doesn't appear to have a UK release date, though review copies have been floating around; the BBC Click Online presenter had one a few weeks ago, though didn't say much about the specifics). From the review seems generally pretty good, if somewhat limited (it doesn't do text messaging, only voice calling). . I wonder how the others (such as the Netgear and Edge-Core phones, or even the BCM Skype/SIP/MSN phone which may or may not be vaporware) will compare.
Joining the cornucopia of vaporware Skype WiFi phones (and the occasional phone using the SIP industry standard which no-one seems to actually use outside of the enterprise) is a Google Talk phone; that's a WiFi-enabled mobile-phone-sized unit that connects to Google's voice-over-IP network. The advantages: the unit will have "Gmail capabilities" built in (which means that all they'd have to do is widen the keybad and they could call it a Googleberry). The disadvantage, of course, is that all your friends are on Skype, which refuses to connect with other networks (other than the analogue phone system).
And another (vaporware) Wi-Fi Skype/VoIP phone has been announced: the Edge-Core WM4201, like the BCM and Netgear Skype phones announced before it, is said to ship in July 2006. As with the BCM phone, there is no sign of anyone preparing to sell these to consumers.
(via The Register)
A Chinese company claims to have reverse-engineered the Skype protocol, and are about to release software and/or details soon. No word on whether the specification of the protocol will be released, or just an API to an alternative proprietary tools. There are some more details here.
Hopefully this will result in the Skype protocol becoming publicly documented and opened up.
Nintendo have announced a microphone/headphone headset for their DS handheld game console, intended for use with games allowing voice communication between players. Though perhaps that's only the start; were Nintendo to bring out a VoIP package for the DS, it would turn the WiFi-enabled pocket game console into a reasonably useful internet phone. Given that a version of the Opera web browser is about to come out for the Nintendo DS, it's not entirely implausible to imagine Nintendo doing a similar tie-up with Skype (or perhaps Google Talk), or else bundling a standard SIP client with their handheld.
Self-contained Wi-Fi VOIP phones are like buses: you wait for ages and then several come along all at once. The latest announced is the BCM WLAN800, which not only talks Skype and SIP but can also do MSN. It's said to be coming out in July, though it's not clear where it will be available for purchase.
Looks like there's another WiFi-based, standalone cordless Skype phone coming out; unlike the Netgear and Belkin offerings, this one will hedge its bets and speak both Skype and SIP. It also does text messaging, which the Netgear phone may or may not do.
The PDF files on the manufacturer's web site say that the phones are firmware upgradeable through a USB serial console. I wonder whether they run something standard like Linux, and if so, how hackable they are. If would be rather cool if it were possible to add third-party extensions to the interface (for example, a version of Gaim, or even the promised Linux port of Google Talk).
As of today, internet phone service Skype has added Australia to the list of countries in which you can lease dial-in phone numbers. This means that, for a fee considerably lower than Telstra line rental, you can rent a phone number in any one of various Australian area codes, which, when dialled, will reach your computer wherever you are logged in, or, failing that, a voicemail feature. Dialling the number counts as a local call in the respective area code.
There are now 14 countries in which one can get SkypeIn phone numbers. Because of the arcane webwork of telecommunications regulations any such enterprise would get enmeshed in, some countries are easier to get numbers in than others. In the UK, US, Australia, Brazil and Finland, for example, you just select an area code, pick a number (and you get the option to search for strings of digits you'd like) and pay. In Japan and Poland, you have to check a box certifying that you are a resident of the location in question before they give you your number; presumably numbers there are legally reserved for residents. (Whether or not they check is another matter.) France, Germany and Switzerland go one step further, requiring you to obtain a number from the local telco bureaucracy and then pass it on to Skype.
Google release their own instant messaging/VoIP system. It's called Google Talk, and, unlike proprietary competitors, is based on the XMPP ("Jabber") protocol. The Google client is Windows-only at the moment, so Mac and Linux users will have to content themselves with having text-only conversations using the various other XMPP clients, though clients for other platforms are under develop,ent. Google also say that they will fully document the VoIP protocol and support SIP as well, which is very promising; unlike Skype, it will be an open, user-extensible system, and there will be nothing stopping all-in-one multiprotocol clients like Gaim from integrating Google Talk functionality (which is just as well; having a separate window for each network you're on is a waste of screen space). All it needs is SkypeOut-style facilities for making calls to telephone numbers; though, with an open system, third parties could easily step in and provide those.
Skype have just added Scandinavia to their SkypeIn offerings; now one can buy phone numbers in Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Finland and have them directed to one's Skype client anywhere on the internet (along with the U.S., UK, French and Hong Kong numbers previously on offer). Hopefully they'll roll more countries out soon.
It's interesting to note that, of the eight countries on offer, France restricts its phone numbers to those resident in French metropolitan areas, while the others will happily allocate them to anyone. Dirigisme, anyone?
Voice-over-IP phone service Skype have started offering dial-in phone numbers. This means that, for a regular fee, you can rent a phone number in one of several countries and area codes. People calling that number will get through to your Skype client, and will pay only the standard rate for calling a number in that area. Currently, there are phone numbers available in the US (various area codes), the UK (London), France and Hong Kong; hopefully more countries will follow soon.
SkypeIn information is not yet visible on the public site, but if you log in, it offers to sell you a phone number or three. I wonder how quickly they will run out of numbers.
Living in London and not having a landline, I've been using Skype to call people in Australia; recently, I have found its reliability to be somewhat variable. Sometimes when I call a mobile phone number, I get a recorded announcement saying that the phone in question is not connected; at other times, I get a nameless voice-mail message, which may or may not belong to the person I wanted to call.
Furthering the annoyance, Skype's charging mechanism is a bit unreliable, and sometimes it goes from Ringing to Call In Progress when the phone is still ringing; there goes another 16.5 Euro Cents.
Internet-based voice-over-IP now has its own IDD country code: 87810. Which is progress, though at five digits, it is a bit unwieldy, especially when compared to the codes of dinosaur nation states (by comparison, the USA and Canada are 1, the UK is 44, and Australia is 61). (via 1.0)