Meet The 2600hz Project, The New Sound of Open Source Telephony

13 Comments

Some of the core developers behind FreePBX — a well-known, open-source phone system — have teamed up and started The 2600hz Project, a commercial entity promoting a collection of open-source telephony applications and libraries. Today, they are releasing blue.box, a reworked version of open source FreePBX. The new venture is co-founded by Darren Schreiber and is also a subsidiary of newly formed VoIP Inc. The 2600hz Project received $250,000 in funding from an unnamed investor.

2600 Hz is the frequency that the phone companies used back in the day and was hacked by those seeking to make free long distance phone calls. In order to do so, one needed a device that generated the 2600 Hz tone, called the blue box. The new venture is an homage to that heritage.

From what I understand, the new company was formed after some disagreements between the FreePBX developers and the original backers of the project. FreePBX is a graphical user interface that sits on top of open-source telephony software such as Asterisk. FreePBX was promoted by Bandwidth.com.

Apparently, disagreements emerged when the forthcoming FreePBX v3 project announced support for FreeSwitch, a competitor to Asterisk. FreePBX was formerly known as Asterisk Management Portal. Frustrated by the pace of development and lack of resources, some of the core developers of FreePBX, especially those working on the new version of the software, decided to break away from Bandwidth.com’s version of FreePBX. In an email, Schreiber outlined:

In 2010, I got together with the core developers of the FreePBX v3 project and we collectively decided we would be better served operating independently. Together, we launched the 2600hz project – a collection of open-source Telephony Applications and Libraries that we expect to grow dramatically over the coming months. The project is designed to be an open-source foundation, focusing specifically on telephony projects. We are even exploring ideas around legal status as a non-profit foundation.

Tomorrow, we will release the first project under the 2600hz umbrella. Our first release will be blue.box – a significantly reworked version of FreePBX v3. For the record, this is now an independent project that has not been endorsed nor sponsored by bandwidth.com. Some of the original code from the FreePBX v3 project is still there, but much of it has been replaced. Bandwidth.com still owns the FreePBX name, but FreePBX v3 never made it out of beta. We expect to incrementally improve (and effectively replace) the entire stack, at which point we will transfer rights of the code to the open-source foundation/organization.

The blue.box is essentially a free, open-source system that works with any SIP-compliant device or service (including desk and mobile phones) and supports a multitude of features, such as auto-configuring of phone services, unlimited free conference calling, and auto-attendants. It’s been released under the Mozilla Public License. “We still hope to utilize, promote and work with Bandwidth.com, as they have one of the largest nationwide telephony networks out there,” Schreiber said.

13 Comments

Michael S Collins

Om,

Thanks for bringing attention to this important new OSS VoIP project. I’ve personally watched Darren work very hard on FPBXv3 and now blue.box. He also co-authored the new FreeSWITCH book and conducted the first formal FreeSWITCH training class.

I am looking forward to seeing blue.box 1.0 very soon.

-MC

josh

Om is the Bob Woodward of the tech/telephony world. His “posts” are sooooo well researched.

Patrick Sullivan

Well said Philippe. Even though at this time there are some similarities we believe that the 2600hz project is taking a very different direction then FreePBX. The GUI is just a small part of the overall picture that we will be unveiling in the coming months. Both projects will bring a lot to the community and we cannot give enough thanks to the support Bandwidth has given the Open Source community over the years.

Chris

@Dean Collins

Apparently some people (hint: look in the mirror) don’t understand the importance of the original phone phreak movement to today’s modern VoIP movement. It has nothing to do with stealing service and everything to do with learning & freedom of choice and to tinker. The reality is that there is a LOT of respect for the original phreakers on multiple levels. The choice of names does NO harm to this project.

Also, to say it is a shame that AMP has ended up at blue.box is like saying that McDonalds ended up as Taco Bell. The two are only alike in that they both provide a simplified visual management interface to a potentially very complex telephony back-end.

It looks to me like you have been either paid to make your post or have a vested interest in FreePBX. Either way, your post comes across as blind fanboiism.

Have a nice day.

Philippe Lindheimer

It would appear that there may have been some mis-interpretation by the editorial staff. The original code for this project started its life as FreePBXv3. The project wanted v3 to be a rewrite from ground up and in order to maximize the creativity, the project led by Darren, was given complete independence. The projects shared a website and forums but that was it.

Because of its name, FreePBXv3, and its inclusion in the main site, there was more and more confusion between the two projects. The intent was and continues to be to allow both the current FreePBX project and the new rewrite to thrive and let the open source process and communities make their choices and determine the future of both projects. The current FreePBX version 2.X installed base has hundreds of thousands of users and as such, we have always felt it critical to continue innovation on the 2.X front while at the same time making sure that new creativity could flourish with v3.
It became obvious that the best way to continue, given much of the confusion, was to spin off v3 into a new project thus allowing full independence and removing the confusion. That is now happening and the various websites will be updated accordingly. We think this is the right thing for both projects and will benefit the Asterisk, FreeSWITCH and various VoIP communities tremendously!

Darren Schreiber

Sorry you don’t like the name, but the code and project are pretty neat and a nice evolution of open-source PBXes. You should give it a whirl before you knock it.

dean collins

wow which idiot decided to associate this project with call phreaking.

really dumb move.

Shame this is where AMP has ended up based on where it started from.

Darren Schreiber

@Ben – it’s very different.
First of all, OpenVBX doesn’t do SIP.
Second, OpenVBX requires you to use the Twilio APIs and pay $0.03/minute.

The blue.box project is COMPLETELY free and you can use it with any service provider, phones, etc. you want.

Todd Barr

Just to set the record straight, there were no disagreements at Bandwidth.com or within the FreePBX project about supporting FreeSwitch with FreePBX v3. In fact, Bandwidth.com is a platinum sponsor of ClueCon (and has been for the past 2 years), which is the FreeSwitch developers conference that is happening Aug 3-5.

FreePBX still firmly supports Asterisk, as well, and remains the leading GUI for Asterisk-based PBX implementations.

Darren Schreiber

Thanks for the write-up on 2600hz.

Just to clarify a few things in relation to Bandwidth.com …

We’ve been working with Bandwidth.com on how to best give the project some independence, and Bandwidth.com is being as supportive as possible.

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