Internet Telephony Shoot-Out: Skype vs. SIPphone

By Jim Louderback  |  Posted 2003-10-17 Print this article Print

ExtremeTech's editors compare the two newest ways to call via the Internet: The SIPphone from Lindows' Michael Roberston vs. the Skype service from the developers of Kazaa.

There are few organizations more loathed than the telephone company. Lets face it – none of us like forking over our hard-earned cash every month just to use the phone. Well, how much would it be worth to you to be able to call your friends and family for free by using the Internet? Granted, this is already possible via rudimentary VoIP (Voice over IP) services, but theyve been burdened by poor sound quality, dropped calls, and difficult interfaces. Now, two new entrants are poised – head-to-head – to dominate this burgeoning market. Interestingly enough, both come from developers with a successful track record in other arenas – including easy-to-use Linux, MP3s, and peer-to-peer networking.
The first, the new Skype service, has been created by the developers of the popular file-sharing system Kazaa. It uses Kazaas peer-to-peer technology, along with your PCs sound card, to create an easy-to-use, IM-style VoIP application thats fast and sounds good. Because its based on a proprietary protocol, however, it wont interoperate with other services.
The second service, the new SIPphone, comes from Michael Robertson, who founded and then gave us Lindows, the easy-to-use Linux OS variant, PC and software distribution system. Unlike Skype, the SIPphone is a stand-alone appliance – plug it into your broadband router and youre off. Because its based on the emerging SIP protocol – which stands for Session Initiation Protocol - the SIPphone can interoperate with other SIP devices. Neither system can call out to standard POTS (plain old telephone service) lines. They do illustrate, however, just how far VOIP has come – its actually good enough to offer a viable alternative to existing phones. To read the rest of this review from ExtremeTech, click here.
With more than 20 years experience in consulting, technology, computers and media, Jim Louderback has pioneered many significant new innovations.

While building computer systems for Fortune 100 companies in the '80s, Jim developed innovative client-server computing models, implementing some of the first successful LAN-based client-server systems. He also created a highly successful iterative development methodology uniquely suited to this new systems architecture.

As Lab Director at PC Week, Jim developed and refined the product review as an essential news story. He expanded the lab to California, and created significant competitive advantage for the leading IT weekly.

When he became editor-in-chief of Windows Sources in 1995, he inherited a magazine teetering on the brink of failure. In six short months, he turned the publication into a money-maker, by refocusing it entirely on the new Windows 95. Newsstand sales tripled, and his magazine won industry awards for excellence of design and content.

In 1997, Jim launched TechTV's content, creating and nurturing a highly successful mix of help, product information, news and entertainment. He appeared in numerous segments on the network, and hosted the enormously popular Fresh Gear show for three years.

In 1999, he developed the 'Best of CES' awards program in partnership with CEA, the parent company of the CES trade show. This innovative program, where new products were judged directly on the trade show floor, was a resounding success, and continues today.

In 2000, Jim began developing, a daily, live, 8 hour TechTV news program called TechLive. Called 'the CNBC of Technology,' TechLive delivered a daily day-long dose of market news, product information, technology reporting and CEO interviews. After its highly successful launch in April of 2001, Jim managed the entire organization, along with setting editorial direction for the balance of TechTV.

In the summer or 2002, Jim joined Ziff Davis Media to be Editor-In-Chief and Vice President of Media Properties, including, Microsoft Watch, and the websites for PC Magazine, eWeek and ZDM's gaming publications.


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