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Skype Gateways for Local Calls? 42

cgenman asks: "My girlfriend is currently living abroad, but needs to make calls here in the States. I'm investigating Skype to phone gateways, but none seem to allow the person who is trying to Skype in remotely to initiate calls on the local phone network. What experiences have people had with Skype gateways which give remote people full local access? Are there other setups better suited for this purpose?"
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Skype Gateways for Local Calls?

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  • by alienw ( 585907 ) <<moc.liamg> <ta> <todhsals.wneila>> on Friday April 21, 2006 @06:55PM (#15177979)
    Have you heard of SkypeOut? If you don't like it, SIP phones work a lot better and give you a wide choice of providers. So get something like a SIP softphone, set it up to work with a service (say, nufone.net or whichever one you like), and make phone calls. Works real well, and you can even set up an incoming toll-free number.
  • Vonage or SkypeOut (Score:5, Informative)

    by pv2b ( 231846 ) on Friday April 21, 2006 @06:58PM (#15178002)
    Your girlfriend probably want to subscribe to something like Vonage, SkypeOut, or some other Internet telephone provider. Sure, she'll have to pay for her calls, but it's definitely a lot less hassle than having to set up a gateway.

    Plus, she gets her own phone number people can call her on, if she gets a service that does that.

    On the more geeky side, if you want to be your girlfriend's telephone operator so you can give her free calls (I don't know, maybe that kind of thing turns you or her on), you definitely want to play around with Asterisk, the free open source PBX [asterisk.org], and get an account with a tinkerer-friendly SIP provider. Using that setup, and a SIP softphone program on the computer, or a hardware SIP telephone adapter or SIP telephone, you can do pretty much anything you can imagine.

    Don't bother trying to do anything clever with Skype though, it's not an open system, and you're a lot better off with an account from some kind of tinkerer-friendly SIP provider. Not living in the US, I can't give you any specific recommendations.

    Hope this helps.
    • The apartment is actually on Vonage, so SoftPhone wouldn't be a bad option.

      But there has to be a geekier way. We've got at least 6 computers in this apartment. It seems like it should be easy to get audio from one machine to the phone line, then define some numerical tones perhaps triggered through a chat message. Wire the audio-out directly into the mic on a phone, vice-versa with the audio-in... maybe use a parallel-port connection to define if the phone is picked up or not. On a fundamental level it
      • with Asterisk, you can't get much more geekier.
        You basically get an expansion card, and you can hook it into a copper line (standard telephone) and a VoIP box at the same time, which allows you to send AND recieve calls using either or.
        That way, you could actually program it so that she can call a 1-800 number for your voip phone from overseas, and the asterisk system picks up, and you can say: "To make an outgoing local call, press 1." and then it could do something like that... I dunno lol it'd take a
      • Asterisk is a very flexible little piece of software, and I'm sure you can write a channel driver (or a channel driver already exists) which lets you roll your own telephone interface using a sound card and a parallell port.

        Read more about it, and if you want to be geeky, Asterisk is *definitely* what you want to be playing with.
        • Just hooking your phone line up to a sound card isn't a very wise thing to do, unless you make sure that people using your gateway can't mess around using tone box 'techniqz', like place long distance calls, play pranks on 911, mess up your services using *#, etc.
  • by Hammerikaner ( 570527 ) on Friday April 21, 2006 @07:00PM (#15178011) Homepage
    I've been living in Germany for 8 months now and generally use SkypeIn to call people. Well, actually, SkypeIn gives you a local number in whatever area code you want and then people can call you on your computer. It costs 10 euros for 3 months of service or 30 euros for a full year. Basically, when I want to talk to someone, I call them with SkypeOut (~2 cents/min) and have them call me back (free for me, and whatever costs for them to call my local number in the states--generally just using up cell phone minutes). It's worked out very well for me and I have probably saved $50-100 on phone calls since I have been here.
    • My gf originates from St Petersburg and I'm from Finland. Skypeout just does not work very well to Russia. It'd be dirt cheap, but dirt cheap something that does not work is not worth much. She lives here, but calls her people..

      Skype has huge limitation that it does not allow technically savvy people to set up firewall port forwarding etc, instead it relies on a sort of an UDP hack.
  • Use AT&T VoIP for 30 bucks a month, she can plugged in the VoIP gateway into any broadband connection and call out, regardless of where she is in the world. No long distance and people can call a local number to get ahold of her.

    --
    So who is hotter? Ali or Ali's siter?

    • Lingo [lingo.com] is cheaper ($20) and has free calling to most of Western Europe. You can also get a foreign number in several countries for an extra $10/mo. The referral program is great too, both the referrer and referee get a $25 credit after 90 days (and the first month for the new signup is free). There's no referrer code or anything in that link, you enter the referrer's email address when you sign up. If anyone plans to sign up message me and we can both get a credit.
      • Lingo sucks ass, based on my experience and the experience of many others. Call quality and drops are horrible, I would say slightly inferior to the FREE Internet phone services. It's cheaper, but you get what you pay for. Customer service, and service in general, is dramatically better on Vonage and ther other more expensive VoIP systems. Check out VoIP forums for more horror stories.
  • Asterisk@home (Score:3, Informative)

    by sacbhale ( 216624 ) on Friday April 21, 2006 @07:13PM (#15178093)
    setup an asterisk@home box at home. Let her install a softphone instead of skype.
    you can do all sorts of funky routing you want on ur home gateway and
    She can call whoever she wants using your landline as a gateway.

    • +1 for *@home

      very easy to set up
    • I can only second this statement. Contrary to what is sometimes said on slashdot, asterisk's dialplan and other configuration is rather easy and straightforward to set up, yet totally flexible. ...And it is fun to have an exchange under your desk!

      The source code itself is a bit messy for an open source project (IMHO), but it works and this is the important thing.
  • Skype and privacy (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Frol ( 52495 )
    Funny, I just read about Skype implementing censoring of text-messages for the Chinese market [ft.com]. I have no problem with Skype following local regulations, even if it is censorship. But considering this quote from Skypes homepage [skype.com]:

    Skype encrypts all calls and instant messages end-to-end for unrivaled privacy.

    If Skype really had end-to-end encryption, censoring would be impossible. How can we trust Skype to implement any encryption for voice calls? Who knows who is listening...

    [Sorry for ranting a bit off-

    • They probably censor it inside the client program like a spellchecker--so if you're in China, and you type something like "human rights violation" it can auto-correct it to "happiness". Then the word "happiness" will be encrypted and sent over the wire.
  • Teleon (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    http://www.teleon.net/product1.html [teleon.net]

    Never tried it, but maybe it's what you're looking for. Found it by Googling around just now.
    • Wow. That's basically how I envisioned the system would work. And now that they can dial more than 10 numbers (weird oversight), it seems nearly perfect! Thanks!

  • http://cgi.ebay.ca/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item= 5837976285&rd=1&sspagename=STRK%3AMEWA%3AIT&rd=1 [cgi.ebay.ca]

    That's the ticket. Very flexible personal skype-out device plus a bunch of other goodies for $50US.
  • gizmoproject (Score:3, Interesting)

    by saturnism ( 177882 ) on Friday April 21, 2006 @07:42PM (#15178259)
    I'm using Gizmo from gizmoproject.com. It's a SIP phone, cheaper than skype for dial in and dial out services, plus a pretty usable ui for linux as well. I'm using both dial-in and dial-out services.
  • If your girlfriend has broadband, try BroadVoice. She can call 35 countries [broadvoice.com] for $28.27 per month.
  • I use Vonage, but it might not work well overseas due to latency issues.

    • Vonage has worked great for me in every country I've tried it, and I've never heard of a place where it didn't work, provided that you've got halfway decent bandwidth and are willing to tinker with your settings on their web page to suit your circumstances.

      The only caution I'd offer on that count, many local Telco's are government run monopolies, and may not be in love with VOIP. This may mean you need to run through an SSH tunnel or something (depending on how strongly they feel about it and how much y

    • Yeah, it is best to find a SIP provider within your same continent so you don't add any more latency/lag to the VOIP experience... Lag on VOIP is already as bad if not worse as it is on cell phones. There are many major SIP providers in the US and in Europe, so you can easily find one close to you with good prices. I am in Canada, and I pay $7.95 US for a local phone number, unlimited local calling, 2.1 cents/minute (usd) long distance and callerID/voice mail/etc. with http://www.internationalnumber.com/ind [internationalnumber.com]
  • Skype? Don't Bother (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Braxton_the_Covenant ( 838765 ) on Friday April 21, 2006 @10:22PM (#15178827)
    It is not worth it to blow money on a device just to use such quirky proprietary software to set up VOIP-to-PSTN communications. Skype uses the compressed (lossy) iLBC codec, which is lower quality than the G.711u codec most of the mainstream SIP VOIP providers use for their phone calls. Skype also requires you (or your girlfriend rather) to either talk to the person on the phone using a mike and headphones or some kludge like a "phone" that hijacks the audio in and audio out from your soundcard. Finally, SkypeOut is actually more expensive per minute to North America than the better SIP providers.

    I suggest checking out the comments found on voxilla.com and its very active forum community for advice on setting up her (and no doubt eventually yours too) VOIP connection, and work out all the details like whether you just want outbound-to-PSTN calling or if she needs a DID number as well for being called at, whether you need an IP phone or an ATA, what providers suit your needs and what is the best way to configure your software or hardware.
  • VoIP works as well as Skype, you have the same voice quality with similar bandwidth usage (iLBC codec is great) and a lot of providers at better prices than SkypeOut. I use voipbuster.com , great service, incredibly good prices, and I can use my grandstream.com SIP phone to dial and to speak with very good voice quality. They recomend to use the G-711 codec, but from my country I get best results with the G-723 or G-729 codecs. And best of all, in most areas you can get a local phone number for free.
  • It sounds like you want to be able to connect a VoIP service to the PSTN. What you need is an Asterisk box and an FXO. The X100P "clone" FXOs are around $10-15, and with a little bit of setup you can use SIP to connect to your Asterisk PBX and make outgoing calls using your traditional phone lines.

    There are also services that let you connect Asterisk to the PSTN through their own gateways - generally rates are around $0.02-$0.05 per minute.

    I have the best of both worlds - I can use the landline for local ca
  • A few people have suggested an asterisk box, easier solution the SPA-3000 by Sipura/Linksys I have explained it a little in my blog. http://netgaddi.blogspot.com/2006/03/voice-over-in ternet-voip-telephone.html [blogspot.com]
    • I tried very hard to get one of those in New Zealand, only for the dealer to call me up to tell me they're not 'TelePermitted' and he's not getting them in any more, and they don't have anything else like it (both FXO and FXS with SIP).

      How do you find DTMF detection etc? I heard those were a complaint with that model. I'm a little inclined to splash out for an ISDN BRI connection + card instead. Less wait while dialing, callerid comes through immediately instead of after a ring, no echo problems, better

      • well the dtmf detection is pretty good from what I have been using. but if you want to run a commercial system you are better off with BRI card. and if you have the money then it doesn't really matter, using the SPA has the advantage of not having to run a linux box.
  • Try Vonage. My parents in Japan have a Houston area code, so folks in Houston can call them as a local call, and everyone else just pays normal within-US long distance. On top of that, their Vonage phone number is tied to their modem, not their physical address, so when they move or go on vacation, they can just take the modem with them and can receive calls anywhere they have Ethernet access to the Internet. I think an unlimited within US and Canada plan is running for $29.99 a month these days and incl
  • i already noticed your comment that skypeout to russia is crap and as skype is a closed system you can't really integrate your own in it.

    either run an open pabx (like asterisk) or use another voip provider. you'll have to use different software on the client but thats life.
  • Openser keeps Debian packages and it really works.

    www.openser.org

    The toughest part for me is the lack of beginner how-to's. I didn't know anything about it, but I learned. The support forums are good.

    It runs beautifully on a P2 233.
  • found this device which actually does kind off what you want using skype http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&it em=9717093504 [ebay.co.uk]

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