[svlug] international phone calls

Greg Herlein gherlein at herlein.com
Tue Jul 17 20:23:02 PDT 2001

Ah, a subject near and dear to my heart.  :)

If you want to spring the cash for a gateway system (not
cheap) you can join the Free World Dialup Project:


It does what you asked for.  But, you will need to buy a gateway
system from them and join their system.

The best realistic open source bet right now is:

	Ohphone - part of the OpenH323 Project

It works and is relatively easy to install and use, and is the
most cross platform.  Both ends need the software, but it runs on
Win32 and Linux (and xBSD).  Both ends on the net, no real phones
involved.  Can use sound cards or Quicknet cards.  Works great
with software GSM compression, but works really great with
Quicknet cards onboard DSP compression.  I use it all the time
and it's the best overall solution I have found.  But, it still
stinks compared to using a regular phone.  Of course, it's hard
to beat free!

> - i do what it takes to be able to place free international phone calls... 
> 	- get xyz stuff installed if any...
> 	- use the PC dial keypad and talk w/ headset on linux 
> 	- other end pick up the regular phone...
> 	- and we gab for a few or few hours...
> 	- hangup and hope nothing shows up on the ph bills...

This is PC-to-Phone - and you need a gateway that is local to the
called party to make it work.  The problem is, that in many
countries you pay a per minute fee for all calls.  So, this is
not as easy from the financial side of things.

> - dont want the complication of the other end having ot have the
>   same hardware/software installed on their PC...
> 	- i want to call their phone...not PC...

That makes it hard - you are in the phone-to-phone or PC-to_phone
realm with that limitation.

> - which apps and gateways ?
> - which hop-on and hop-off services if any

The OpenH323 Project has a gateway - but like all H.323 apps,
it's not firewall or NAT friendly.  It works... or did the last
time I played with it.

> - am not(?) interested in services from companies we have to pay for the
>   right to use their hardware/equipment etc...etc..
> 	- those so called $0.01/min - $0.02/min with all kinds of restrictions

None are linux friendly anyway.  Once upon a time I wrote one
that was, but it never saw commercial release (sigh).  I know of
no client for linux that works with any major ITSP (internet
telephony service provider).  Ohphone can work with the few
ITSP's that use Cisco gear that speaks H.323, but the
authentication is weak and oh so hackable that I doubt any of the
providers are still going that route.  They are all proprietary,
and none have a linux port.

> - any howto on these issues ??
> - found only one good google hit for "linux phone howto"
> 	http://www.linuxtel.com/EPHONE/ephone.html
> 	( haven't tried it yet )

Are they even still around?  I thought that project was dying on
the vine...  interstingg if they have updated it.

Other telephony links of interest:


Bayonne - linux/bsd IVR software
Asterisk - Linux Gateway
PreViking - Linuk Telphony Services Platform
OpenSS7 - SS7 telco protocol

OSIP (Open SIP) - signalling/call setup/control

VoiceTronix - 4 port PSTN hardware

Quicknet - single port Phone and PSTN cards 
Disclaimer:  $PRIOR_FIRM (I used to work there)

OST - Open Source Telecom Corp

Vovida - lots of stuff, including a SIP system

I've been out of telephony for awhile (long story involving
emplooyee confidentiality agreements that become effective
non-compete agreements), but I'm back in it now.  I've got the
core of a new RTP and SDP library started... but it's a long way
from anything since I've been getting ready for my first child to
get born.  :)

For interested folks, some of us are trying to put together a BoF
for LinuxWorld to talk more linux telephony.  Coordinate through
me or Rich Bodo (rsb at ostel.com) if interested.


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