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Analysis: SIPphone's Free VoIP Calling Plan

Read the fine the print on this Skype-competitor's offer for free international and domestic calling.

SIPphone rattled the VoIP industry today, announcing free calling to PSTN and mobile phones for users of it's VoIP-IM service, Gizmo Project.

The move was an obvious take off on a similar announcement from Skype last May that introduced free calling to US-based users until the end of the year. Both plans are meant to expand the market share of the services.

However, the SIPphone effort differs in a number of significant ways from the Ebya's Skype offer. Unlike with Skype, the Gizmo Project plan is permanent and requires both users to be "active" Gizmo Project users. "Active" accounts are those used regularly to make voice calls using the Gizmo Project software. Also unlike with Skype, the calls aren't confined to North America, but can be placed from anywhere in the world and received in 60 countries. Finally, while SKype allows any regular phone number to be dialed within a designated region, Gizmo Project limits user to calling users at the mobile and landline numbers in their Gizmo profile.

It's not the first time that SIPphone challenged the field of VoIP services. Gizmo Project was the first service to provide a graphical measure of voice quality in its client; the first service to let users interject sound effects into their calls. It was also the first service to show the locations of callers and recipients on a map and one of the first services outside of Skype to use the GIPS CODEC for stellar voice quality. Gizmo Project includes IM, like Skype, but unlike Skype, Gizmo Project provides voice mail for free.

Even still Gizmo Project's penetration has been nominal at best. The service's audience today "approaches a million," says Kevin La Rue, the vice president of marketing for SIPphone. How close to a million, he won't say, but regardless that's still a far cry from the over 280 million users who've downloaded the Skype client.

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