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Gizmo5 Launches OpenSky, Free Service to Call Skype From Any VoIP Phone

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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 [email protected] 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

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 [email protected], 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.

45 Responses to “Gizmo5 Launches OpenSky, Free Service to Call Skype From Any VoIP Phone”

  1. I have been using the SIPPhone service for the past three years, I really like their service and I feel I saved lot of money in my International calls to India. I recommended SIPPhone to my friends, and they ( 4 familities ) are also using SIPPhone. Call quality is extremely good with Cable / DSL connection.

  2. I’ve been attempting to port my number (aka become a new paying customer) to Gizmo5 for some time, but the customer service has been so slow (it took weeks for someone to reply to my first ticket to port my number, and then nobody ever replied again…) I have been wondering if there’s anyone there at all.

    Beyond that, Gizmo5 is a communications company, yet it’s impossible to speak to a live human being (via voice or chat) or have anything shorter than a conversation that takes weeks to go back and forth. The phone number is only a voicemail line.

    The saddest thing is, I still want to port my number there – largely because Gizmo does all the things I want to do with my number currently – and I could run a couple fewer applications on my computer… and the price is right… If only the customer service and technical support were…

  3. Thats for the steps on how to do that with Grandcentral. It almost works.

    I only get a few chat messages that i am about to get a call from opensky but Skype never rings.

    Any suggestions?

  4. Michael Robertson

    Yes, this makes GrandCentral to Skype calls possible and here’s how. Set up a Gizmo5 account by going to After you login you will see a call forwarding option:

    – No Forwarding
    – Forwarding All Calls
    – If no answer on Gizmo5, ring elsewhere (Call Hunting)

    Select “Forwarding all Call” and then select where you want the call forwarded to:


    Take note of your 1747xxx-xxxx number just below that in the Account Overview section. Then go to GrandCentral and add a ringing option of Gizmo and enter that 1747 number.

    Now any calls to GrandCentral will ring Skype.

    — MR

  5. Charlie Harding

    Not sure why people are comparing OpenSky to chanskype. They are very different solutions:

    To use OpenSky: [email protected] (FREE calls up to 5 mins)

    To use ChanSkype: (from their FAQ) (Must pay to try)

    In order to get ChanSkype up and running, you will need the following:

    * The i386 version of one of these Linux distributions (64 bit versions are not yet supported): Fedora Core 3, Fedora Core 4, Fedora Core 5 or Ubuntu 6.04 Dapper Drake.
    * Asterisk v1.2.9 or greater.
    * An X server.
    * A VNC server.
    * The official Linux Skype client v1.3 (v1.2.X will not work).
    * The gcc C compiler and associated libraries.
    * The Qt development library.
    * The kernel development files.
    * A fair knowledge of Asterisk and Linux system administration.

  6. Michael,
    The first hosted SIP to skype will pay off. There is somewhat of a stigma with skype. What people need to understand in their evaluation of this solution, is the automation factor/ how is the process easy? When you mention ” 90% of mobile phones have no data connection which means they cant call a Skype user. Now they can using a SMS to trigger a call. I think it’s a clever implementation which will be useful to many people – probably not Gigaom readers admittedly.” Most of these individuals who may find this implementation useful may need a bit more information on how simple the process is for them to call a user. I am working with a start-up right now and one of the things that I tend to see are critical assumptions on the device without realizing how revolutionary the solution is! Emphasizing the user experience and the method to achieve this capability may reduce the criticism. I think that the group should be just as supportive as they are critical especially if this criticism isnt coming from UAT sessions! I feel your pain.

  7. i am the CEO of Gizmo5. Let me address a few of the responses.

    OpenSky is unique because it is the first hosted SIP to Skype gateway. Yes, Skype has an unreleased and unpriced product. It’s unclear how much this will cost or when it will be released. You’ll also need to be a programmer to install it and need your own asterisk server. With OpenSky anyone can use it by simply entering a Skype address. This means anyone with any SIP aware device can use it right now.

    For anyone with an ATA, SIP wifi phone, Nokia dual mode GSM/wifi can now call a Skype user. This is new functionality.

    On mobile phones anyone with the cheapest dumb mobile phone without a data connection or special software can call a skype user. 90% of mobile phones have no data connection which means they cant call a Skype user. Now they can using a SMS to trigger a call. I think it’s a clever implementation which will be useful to many people – probably not Gigaom readers admittedly.

    For those computers where Skype cant be installed like library or net cafe they can now use a flash enabled browser to make calls.

    Everyone is entitled to their opinion but the comments in this forum are much too critical.

    As for the call quality issues they are really unfounded. In the early days Skype calls had issues and so did all voip systems because getting calls through the wild and wooly net is a challenging undertaking.

    Gizmo uses the same calling libraries as Skype so the call quality will be on par for PC to PC calls as well as PC to PSTN calls. I always offer to personally test a Skype to Skype call alongside a Gizmo5 to Gizmo5 call to anyone who raises this criticism. Nobody has yet to take me up on the offer. My gizmo ID is michael and my skype id is mykillmp3.

  8. Rajan Bhalla

    Good to see they are no more disruptive :)

    Gizmo continues the reputation of making mediocre products by relying on technology from others. They have no technology to show off as there own and shamelessly tries to continue to project themselves as disruptive.

  9. SMS call back? What, are we back to the days of “operator, I’d like to call my mom” Anno 1974? I like my Skype and I like using iSkoot. When true “free” IP-to-IP calling is enables on my Berry, I’m off to the races. Twitter/mobileinsider

  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.

  11. @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.

  12. @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.

  13. 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

  14. 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.

  15. 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.


  16. Disrputive??? Skype already provides this and hence its more like ‘stealing’ the whole thing. Check

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