First steps in VoIP

by Nathan Torkington
Nathan Torkington is an editor, content planner for the O’Reilly Open Source Convention, co-chair of the O’Reilly Bioinformatics Conference, and eager awaiter of the Mac OS X Conference.

Rael and I are about to go to London, and thence to Amsterdam for Euro Foo. Rael’s been looking at Skype as a cheap way to stay in touch with our families in the US, but we’re both running Mac households and Skype doesn’t offer a Mac port. So I’ve been looking at X-Lite, a “softphone”, which does have a Mac port. Both X-Lite and Skype have PocketPC ports, which makes Rael happy–he loves his iPaq.

I’m still unclear on the whole VoIP world (anyone want to write us a small consumer VoIP intro? I’d buy it!) but it appears to break down something like this: hardware phones, software phones, and the SIP services that connect phones together are all different. So I could buy a Vonage hardware phone, run X-Lite as a software phone, and get service from a company I’ve never heard of. Which is pretty much what I did.

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