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Summary:

Gizmo5, the company behind the formerly known as SIPphone, is launching a new gateway that allows people using any VoIP service to call Skype users and vice versa. This free Skype gateway is called OpenSky. It is typical of Michael Robertson, the man behind Gizmo, to […]

Gizmo5, the company behind the formerly known as SIPphone, is launching a new gateway that allows people using any VoIP service to call Skype users and vice versa. This free Skype gateway is called OpenSky. It is typical of Michael Robertson, the man behind Gizmo, to come up with a disruptive solution that removes the barriers between VoIP services and Skype. In an email, Robertson explains:

What we’ve done is create a SIP alias for every Skype user. So if you want to call a Skype user named echo123 you simply dial echo123@opensky.gizmo5.com from any SIP aware device (which is just about every piece of VOIP equipment). Users can even have any SIP call forwarded to their Skype address using my.gizmo5.com.

All calls up to five minutes are free, while longer calls are going to cost you money. For $20 annual fee you can make a call that can last up to two hours. There are many ways to connect. For instance, you can use the Gizmo softphone and dial skypename@opensky.gizmo5.com, or you can go to the web site to initiate calls. Robertson writes:

I think the most popular user segment could be businesses not consumers. Whether businesses spend millions on a Cisco Call Manager system or install the free Asterisk based Trixbox they all share one thing in common – they cannot call to the Skype network. Now with OpenSky they can call businesses because they can use our gateway.

The way I see it, the service will be particularly useful when dialing long distance to countries where the call rates are pretty high. A typical example would be where you can make a local call from the U.S. to a Skype user in India for a price that is cheaper than dirt. Beyond such international call scenarios, I am not quite sold just yet on the extra steps needed to make a call to a Skype user.

Given that Skype-to-phone calls are not really that expensive, I wonder if non-techie consumers are really going to bother signing up for this service. My past experiences with Gizmo have been mixed – it is always innovating in terms of features but the quality has been somewhat lacking. I gave up on the service once the $99 unlimited wireless plans were introduced in the U.S., as they obviated the need to look for cheap calling options.

The new OpenSky service would be great to call my Skype-using friends overseas from my mobile phone. Using any plain ole mobile phone, you send an SMS to OpenSky with the Skype name and seconds later the system calls you back and connects you to that Skype user.

  1. I know Gizmo has the capability to tie into Grand Central, I hope this will lead to something that can forward my Grand Central calls to Skype.

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  2. Holly crap! It’s wrong to give credits to Gizmo or his CEO. See chan_skype which allows anyone to purchase the code and do it over open source asterisk.

    http://www.chanskype.com/

    Skype recently announce partnership with Digium for the same. Any Tom, Dick & Harry can do that.

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  3. Disrputive??? Skype already provides this and hence its more like ‘stealing’ the whole thing. Check share.skype.com/sites/en/2008/09/skype_for_asterisk_beta.html

    The whole solution is just a google search away. Gizmo and its CEO have a knack for fabricating existing solutions.

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    1. @Sergio and @Thomas

      I stand corrected and disruptive is gone :-) Appreciate the rap-on-the-hands here guys.

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  4. OM it’s not disruptive. There are dozens of solution exits which allows connecting SIP to Skype. We use sippyskype and works just fine. It is an open source solution which does exactly the same.

    Thomas

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  5. aha! It’s the Gizmo guys again. These guys create lousy products. Their quality sux bigtime! Amongst the lot, their flashphone is the worst!!
    I won’t even pay a dime for such bad voice quality.

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  6. This solution is underwhelming. There are enough possibilities to call Skype, but not enough to receive Skype calls on a normal phone.

    From the PC it’s called Skype and from the mobile phone it’s Fring, Truphone, Nimbuzz, Mobivox and others. Gizmo5 should find a way to associate my Skype-ID with my SIP address from Gizmo5. Then every Skype call would ring my normal phone and my computer could stay switched off.

    I already achieved this scenario by joining the Voxeo developer program. They give a free bridge from Skype to SIP, but unfortunately it’s not too reliable. You can read the setup in my blog post.

    Markus Göbel’s Tech News Comments: A free bridge from Skype to phone
    http://www.goebel.net/technews/2008/03/free-bridge-from-skype-to-phone.html

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  7. [...] Malik commented in his blog on Gizmo5’s launch of a free VoIP calling gateway to Skype users allowing for even cheaper long distance calling. I have been impressed by Om [...]

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  8. @jack

    how many consumers and not voip-geeks are going to chan_skype and use the service. Answer is zero. No one has heard of them. Gizmo5 is trying to go for the consumers and the way I pointed out: good luck to them because the whole thing is a bit complicated. I think the marginal cost savings are so low that it just doesn’t make much sense.

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  9. @Anil

    I am with you on the bad quality – that is one of the reasons why I stopped using their products. I really think the whole idea of saving a few pennies but jumping through the hoops is pretty pointless. I frankly use Skype and that’s the end of it. If people have SkypeOut/SkypeIn numbers I am fairly happy to dial them.

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  10. While the implementation itself does appear nice at first glance (and we all know Gizmo is just that – appears nice until you try it…) as others have mentioned all they’re doing is building an application on top of chan_sip. Anyone can do that and it’s not exactly impressive.

    What is impressive is the fact they’re willing to take the legal risks involved. Given that Skype is closed technology and I seriously doubt they agreed to Gizmo doing this I can totally see a scenario where they’ll send Gizmo a cease and desist or even take them to court over this.

    But we’ll see… most likely Gizmo is just not big enough for Skype to care.

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