I Hate...Skype

Wednesday 2nd November, 2005
I won't mince my words...I don't like Skype.

Don't get me wrong, I like the concept...I like what's it's trying to do...but there's a catch.

Skype is VoIP, but it's proprietary. It originally allowed people with a broadband connected PC and a headset to call international locations at good value rates, but it's proprietary. You could receive and make calls for free to other Skype users, but it's proprietary. You can receive calls from standard phones now, into Skype. With the popularity of Skype, they've now started marketing Skype phone, but they're proprietary.

OK, I've mentioned the word proprietary a fair amount now, but what do I mean?

What I mean is that Skype is good for calling people for free...If they use Skype. Skype phones are great, if I use Skype. Skype is great for everyone who uses Skype...but nobody else. This is why everybody who uses Skype wants you to sign up to Skype and says it's great. If you sign up, they can call you for free...but only if you use Skype.

The UK and many other nations suffered for years by having a single telecoms provider. This left us with a single, overpriced, monopoly we called British Telecom. Even now, BT are still strangling us by holding onto local telephone exchanges and limiting capacity for competing companies.

Nearly all the other VoIP companies use the standard protocol of SIP. This is an open standard and anybody using a SIP device can call anybody else. Softphone/headsets, SIP phones or SIP adapters all use SIP. They will work with any SIP provider. When I moved from my VoIP provider Gossiptel over to Sipgate I didn't need to buy new hardware, didn't need to install and new software. I just change my provider in the config and enter my new login/password. If you leave Skype then you'll need to uninstall it. If you have a Skype phone, you can just throw it in the bin; it's no use with anything else.

The open SIP protocol encourages competition, allows easy supplier switching and avoid wasted investment in hardware. It doesn't matter which provider you use, your SIP kit should always work.

So, if you're thinking of using Skype...think about it...do you want open standards and healthy competition or another Microsoft?

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