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The Almighty Buck Communications The Internet

Skype Start-Up To Undercut International Wireless 103

Mob-Money wrote to mention a Boston Globe article describing a Skype-based startup that is set to undercut the exorbitant fees wireless companies charge for international calls. From the article: "Through a $10-a-year software rental that goes on sale today, iSkoot promises to let people make international calls to other Skype users for nothing more than the price of local air time for the link from their cellphones to their broadband-connected home computers. Just as Internet phone technology has slashed the price of making conventional landline long-distance calls and enabled unlimited calling for as little as $20 a month, the iSkoot technology could put pressure on still-exorbitant wireless international calling charges."
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Skype Start-Up To Undercut International Wireless

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  • ... is a dog wiping itself on the grass in your yard.
  • Sounds pretty useless then.

    Note to VoIP droolers, the shit ain't going to work until you're *all* using the same protocols, and it interoperates seamlessly with POTS.

    Paying 10 bucks to call skype, 10 to call this, 10 to call that.. It'd add up pretty quick. And the Bells have plenty of room to slash prices if they feel the need to.
    • from iskoot.com

      With iSkoot, You Can Now Make and Receive FREE Phone Calls with Any Cell Phone Through Skype

      from the article (aka RTFA)

      Making outbound calls is a little more complicated. After registering the cellphone number with iSkoot, the user creates and sends a text message to the e-mail address dial@iskoot.com. The text message can contain either a phone number, a Skype speed-dial number, or a screen name for someone in the user's Skype ''buddy list."
    • Vonage, AT&T, etc have VoIP services that integrate seamlessly with POTS. I call people on my ordinary phone hooked up to my VoIP box from AT&T, and it rings their ordinary (non-VoIP) phone. It costs about the same as a normal phone line, except I get free long distance. Quality is comparable to POTS too. There are long distance charges to places outside of the US and Canada, but the rates are very, very low compared to regular phone service.

      Basically, if you want a totally free VoIP solution, y
      • Basically, if you want a totally free VoIP solution, you'll have to deal with not being able to contact POTS customers.

        Now here's a different question... now that more people are getting VOIP and have SIP devices on their home networks (e.g. all Vonage users), can I place a call to them from my laptop, by connecting to their SIP device over IP? This would bypass the POTS network and the VOIP "provider" (e.g. Vonage) entirely.

        In case you're wondering why anybody would want to do this, I'm a business tra

        • Since I'm a Vonage subscriber with a SIP box at home, could I call home with my laptop? I realize I could make a laptop-to-PC call home, but it will never fly unless my wife can pick up the regular phone.

          Why not just add Vonage's softphone? Then you can call a landline; don't know if you can call you're own Vonage number.

          OTOH, some hotels that offer internet access include free long distance in the mix - such as Marriott.
          • Why not just add Vonage's softphone? Then you can call a landline;
            It's $10/mo, and I would use it only occasionally.

            Besides, Vonage is a POTS-to-IP bridge. There's no need for such a thing if I'm calling from my laptop to my home network - it's pure IP, and there should be no need for Vonage to have anything to do with the call.

      • Get a BroadVoice connection

        Then get Asterisk. Hook Asterisk to BroadVoice and then call your Asterisk box from the cell phone and if you signed up for the $20 plan, you can call pretty much anywhere in the world from your cell for the price of a local call.

        Been doing it for months and it works like a charm. Plus of course, hook your regular phone up at home and its totally free when you're in the house too!
    • So if the Bells slash prices to that below the cost of VoIp what's the problem?
    • I sort of share your sentiment.

      VoIP 2 local exchange works great, in my experience. I subscribe to Skype to make calls to fixed lines and mobiles regularly. Great call quality and consistently good reliability.

      To make cheap international calls I use 'calling cards'. These guys use a variety of technologies. One of my favourites (due to cheapness and consistent reliability) have used a mishmash of VOIP for at least 5 years. Here's how it works: you buy a calling card (like a phone card), call a l
      • i don't make internation calls but i've used calling cards in other situations and they are a PITA for short calls.

        i spent most of last year in a uni block where you had to use a university supplied card (no they wouldn't let you direct dial the 0800 access numbers for other cards for some reason) to make all calls. I switched to voip on my laptop simply because i could direct-dial that way.
    • Move to Japan. The future is already here. Telephone service comes from Yahoo BB (my ISP) but feels exactly like telephone service: you pick up the phone and dial. And you're done. The only way you can distinguish it from regular telephone service is its 80% cheaper (great for long-distance calls back to the States). There are some regulatory headaches (I have to pay the telephone monopoly to be able to receive calls from certain classes of people, costs about $10 a month plus the one-time licensing fe
    • It's 10$ per year, not per month. Not exactly significant.
  • Since the /. editor didn't feel like giving you a direct link to iSkoot, here's one right now:

    http://www.iskoot.com/ [iskoot.com]
    • Thanks for the link.
      Is it me, or does this software not sound like much of anything?

      What we know:
      1. It connects skype to you phone. Sort of
      2. It will at some un named date in the future provide you with msn, aim, and yim, which most cell phones these days can do anyway.
      3. According to this [iskoot.com] you should be able to make long distance calls for a fraction of a penny. Nice feature, but they don't really explain what they're doing with it, or how it actually works. Do you think that's too much to ask from a page
  • Executives at top wireless carriers, who could lose millions of dollars in international calling revenue, are taking a wait-and-see attitude.

    What else are they going to do? If it becomes successful look for iSkoot to be bought out quickly.

  • "What if you're calling International 911? The system won't know where you are!"

    Reminds me of the V. Postrel book "The Future and Its Enemies" -- it's always nice to see things like this where the Enemies are temporarily set back ;)

    timothy

    • "What if you're calling International 911? The system won't know where you are!"

      Don't worry, they already have a blanket tap on you without a warrent if you're in the US, no matter if you use the Net (IP address, roaming taps are ok), cell phones (it's got an ID for your phone, and it broadcasts unless you turn it off, even when not ringing), land line (any phones you have had anything to do with, including phoning them), and payphones (ditto).

      Just another Homeland Insecurity service for you who live in Fe
  • i Skoot, How long before Apple sues?

    *ducks*
  • FYI... Cringely's Column [pbs.org] this week is on the same topic
  • I frequently make a call to india using Reliance [relianceindiacall.com] and they have excellent service and the charge is only $0.129 using their toll free number. I don't have a land line, or internet phone. Just a cell phone. Other companies like Onesuite [onesuite.com] too provide very low cost service to many destinations including europe and india. So don't see really any great value in this.

    Note that behind the scene, many carriers use voip and toll free number call charge in USA, is only 2 cents a minute. So most companies like skype,

    • I frequently make a call to india using Reliance... the charge is only $0.129 using their toll free number. Other companies like Onesuite too provide very low cost service to many destinations including europe and india. So don't see really any great value in this.

      First of all reliance is not cheap. 13 cents per minute. Onesuite is also not cheap (ranging from 2 to 14 cents per minute).

      Skye is... say it with me: FREE.

      Also this is totally different than using some cheap long distance carrier. This is usin
      • My VOIP plan, the cheapest and crappiest possible plan, gives me 1.6 cents per minute TO ANYWHERE, and that's the most expensive long distance you can get from the company I chose.

        Out of curiosity, which company is this? Is it a raw provider of long distance over voip, or a Vonage-like company?
         
    • I frequently make a call to india using Reliance and they have excellent service and the charge is only $0.129 using their toll free number.

      Here in the UK, there's a company offering much better. You can use your network bundled minutes on your mobile phone to call a gateway, which then allows you to dial out globally. All for the cost of a local call, which (if I'm within my bundle limit) is completely free.

      Any new startup looking to make money out of voice calls really should look into their competi

    • 3u Telecom is also a great service for mobile-only international calling. here [3utelecom.com]
  • Get a calling card with a local or 800 access number. Yes, they do work from your cell phone as well (duh), and if you shop around, you can find dirt cheap ones. Program the number into your cell phone for extra convenience.

    No need to waste time, money, or electricity on a complicated software/hardware/broadband setup.
    • Couldn't they combine the two? A 1-800 number you can dial from your cell-phone (or anywhere) to connect to your iSkoot account? Then all the vo-ip could be handled at their end, which should help quality.
    • I frequently need to call China for business. I stopped in my local 7-11 and bought a Chinese-specific calling card. I've been using the same $20 card for months (I think it costs about 3-4 cents a minute). Simple solution to a simple problem. Eventually the "market will correct" the situation and the wireless carriers will stop charging monopolist rates. As it is, they get away with murder here in the states. You can't even MAKE international calls unless you pass an aggressive credit screening. *sh
  • Lets combine the quality and reliability of cellular service with the quality and reliability of VoIP. Remember kids, degradation of signal is additive. Crappy VoIP connection plus crappy cellular signal = really really crappy call.

    Its an interesting idea, but a little too early to be taken seriously.

  • it's built in, one of the options, at least on my WinXP laptop installation.

    And since my laptop has very good speakers and a reasonable microphone, plus there are tons of free wireless outlets in my neighborhood, can't get much cheaper than that ...
  • Using a calling card on my wireless phone.

    I use cognicall. No monthly fee, 800 access number (so for me it only costs me minutes btw 6a-7p M-F), and 10c/min calls to the UK. Not the absolute cheapest rates around, but they're convenient and good enough.

    Cognicall also has plenty of international access numbers, so it works in reverse when I'm traveling with a pay-as-you-go mobile, or from a regular payphone.

    The good thing about cognicall is they'll pre-authorise your cell number, so you don't have to enter
  • Well, until I read the part about only being able to call other Skype users, I was excited because I was looking forward to making international prank calls... drat ;)
    • RTFA

      Making outbound calls is a little more complicated. After registering the cellphone number with iSkoot, the user creates and sends a text message to the e-mail address dial@iskoot.com. The text message can contain either a phone number, a Skype speed-dial number, or a screen name for someone in the user's Skype ''buddy list."
      • I see your point. If making an outbound call is really that complicated, then I guess that Skype's idea isn't really that practical... I mean, how would Joe Sixpack figure it out?
  • I wonder whether I am smelling a Law suite brewing here. There is no way the huge telcos are going to leave this challenge unanswered somehow. They will argue dumping among others. Here in Canada, a basic [old-fashioned] land-line would cost you about US$ 30 per month with unlimited local calls. This excludes about 15% tax. If this arrangement is to come to Canada, these huge telephone companies would do everything possible to thwart competition. In the USA, I can see the FCC coming in to support these cong
    • suit . . . lawsuit, not 'law suite'

      might want to look up what suite means.
    • I am sure that there will be a legal challenge, but it will not be over "dumping". Arguing that a small start up is some how dumping when all the other players are giants is just silly and would never get to a court. The legal challenge will be over the fact that this company is not going to follow the same laws and regulations of a normal cell phone company. The big cell phone companies will claim that the small company should be held to the same regulations (911 standards, quality regulations, ect).
    • [For those that have used Skype, is it really worth a try? What about those lag issues and clarity of the sound to the talking parties involved?]

      Err, have you tried Skype? The sound quality exceeds that of regular phones. So Skype is unlikely to be the weak link in the chain in terms of quality. JP

    • Dumping? Wouldn't that be the same as a telegram company suing because phones/faxes/emails have replaced telegrams?
       
  • This sounds alot like what Net2Pnone tried unsuccessfully to do in 1998. They eventually gave the made the service free. Its hard to justify the cost of P2P voice calls over the internet.
  • ...between iSkoot and using a calling card with your cellphone. I use Ohello http://www.ohello.com/ [ohello.com] and they have very competitive rates. The international numbers on my cellphone are programmed so they first dial the Ohello number before dialing the actual number - so all I have to do is hit dial. Sending a sms message with the number you want to dial - all seems like way to much trouble.
  • Skype protocol (Score:3, Interesting)

    by owlstead ( 636356 ) on Tuesday August 02, 2005 @07:00PM (#13226432)
    And here we are, the slashdot community thinking Skype is good. Or is it? Skype has a very interesting protocol (or actually, a complete protocol stack). But it is proprietary. Do we actually want to replace the old monopolies with a new one?

    What we need is an open source protocol that works just as well. Skype is a great protocol, but it is *not* the way to go forward. Come on guys, it can not be that hard to send (encrypted) voice over UDP. Let's create a nice, extendible (video etc) protocol that uses UDP - at least for the data channels.
    • Skype is naff because they do not allow SIP clients. http://www.ietf.org/rfc/rfc3261.txt [ietf.org] The protocol has existed for ages, but Skype are a closed shop - another Microsoft in the making. Dump Skype and get yourself a real VOIP provider that uses SIP.
      • Skype are a closed shop - another Microsoft in the making

        So. Every software company that does not produce open source software is "Microsoft in the making". Yep. Right. You got it.
    • Shype isn't a protocol. It's a service, and a very, very good one. I bought 10 bucks worth of service to book hotel rooms for my vacation, and it beats the pants off of calling cards, land line rates, 10-10 numbers, etc. Sure, I had to connect a mic and headphones to my iMac, and look like a total dork, but it worked beautifully, every time.

      I can't recommend it enough.

    • As others has said we have SIP.

      I use the danish musimi.dk for interfacing POTS's. I can call my own number from a cell phone, get a dialtone, and call another SIP-phone for free (except the cell phone charge) or make a 3c/minute international call.
      Denmark do not have local calls (or you could say that all calls are local, but no PSTN calls are free), so there is no reason to waste money on your own PSTN line.

      You can also have PSTN-numbers in different countries for the same SIP-phone. I.e. I
  • From TFA:

    Verizon Wireless spokeswoman J. Abra Degbor said the carrier would have no public comment on iSkoot but would be in touch with the company directly about any concerns it had over the acceptability or legality of the service.

    That sounds like an ominous threat. I'm sure that the various incumbent carriers will find a way to twist the legal system and stomp this one into the ground.

    Consider Vonage, which offered an excellent alternative to the pork- and tax-laden telco's in the US, until said

  • And not worth the effort. I personally have no need to call from a mobile phone internationally, I can wait until I get home. I guess if you're in Europe or something, it would be worth the effort.

  • So you have to:

    1. Get a land phone line.
    2. Rent this software at $10/yr.
    3. Leave a Windows computer always running at home.

    So that you can pay a little more for international calls than you currently pay with a calling card.

    Uh, no thanks!

    Why do people come up with dumb dumb business ideas and actually follow through on them?
  • The discussion on this posting seems to focus on calls made from US mobile numbers to international numbers. VoIP has very few competitive advantages with such a set-up.
    At the same time, if you are calling from a comparatively expensive phone market to a comparably inexpensive phone market, say from China to San Francisco, this service creates significant value. Here in Beijing, it costs me US 50 cents per minute to call the US on my mobile and ~2 center per minute through VoIP. Is saving 48 cents per minut
  • I seem to recall Adam authored a great book [amazon.com] about his time as an employee at Microsoft. Hardly someone who should be giving us the gospel truth about the lotus breakage story.
  • Great to see another innovative company trying to break through the vertical industry structure of today's global wireless industry. More here: http://mp.blogs.com/mp/2005/07/on_wilting_wire.htm l [blogs.com]
  • Skype has the advantage of negotiated low rates to other countries. A little app using
    the Skype API to allow you to call your Skype-in number and then dial Skype-out using your cellphone keypad would quickly replace this service. Of course for those who have Asterisk running connecting to a VOIP provider, it's just a matter of changing some configuration files to make this work, but a lot more people use Skype than Asterisk.
  • What the hell is wrong with /.?
  • I have real SIP based IP telephony, and I have an extra number set up ($1/month) which when I call will require a pin-code, and then give me a new IP-telephon dialtone, and I can call for free to SIP phone numbers, or real landline numbers in the whole world for 10% of the cost of the Danish Telecom to somedestinations.

    There is nothing new about it, apart from it using a proprietary protocol, rather than the free and open SIP protocol.
  • Ironic that Germans already called for more regulation, for laws that set a maximum fee for international roaming, etc. Ugh! As if that solved anything.

    Now there's this startup and prices will drop all on their own.
  • This company has obviously been an avid reader of Cringely, or has similar brain patterns. I remember reading this a while back on: http://www.pbs.org/cringely/pulpit/pulpit20050623. html [pbs.org] From that page: I received last week an announcement for a product that purports to link Skype to any mobile phone system. This is really interesting, though more as an idea than a product. This was one of those press releases that gets in its own way. It took me several readings to figure out how the product actually
  • Ya.. this sounds great until you try it, and you require next to zero traffic on your home dsl/cable link. I have vonage for a home phone, soon as my cable crapped out the phone sucked and died too.. it was a miserable month trying to get the cable company to replace my modem. The phone now works well again, but there is no QOS for VOIP, and if the cable company knows you are going to be VOIPing they can start throttling down the connections for those ports, they have started to do it for Bittorrent.. leg
  • Way back when international dialing was real expensive, companies offered dial back services - you called a number, left the number to call, they connected and then called you back - all via landline.

    Vonage and other Voip providers could do something similar - they could enable remote three way calling - you call your Voip # from a cell phone, enter an access could and get a dialout line - which you use to call overseas at the going rate. The down side is then Voip becomes a target for peopel to gain acces
  • I thought this was great until I realised you have to pay for the SkypeOut minutes. What's the point of that?! If you want to forward the Skype call to your mobile, the cheapest thing would be for the software to dial your mobile via a local modem. Tried Googling for software that does that without any success (for Gizmo Project too).. Any thoughts why?

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