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Desktop Linux Summit 2005: Interest Continues to Grow - page 2

Third Time is Definitely a Charm

  • February 11, 2005
  • By Dee-Ann LeBlanc

Interestingly, the biggest single group of products on display here are for Internet telephony, otherwise referred to as Voice over IP. Three companies have products on display here: SIPphone, Inc., New Avenue, and SwitchVox. While they all deal with VOIP, they are all quite different as far as their particular niche, market, and approach.

SIPphone operates both as a primary vendor, and by providing software so that others can provide VOIP services. You can purchase your own VOIP phone and VOIP-enabled router directly from SIPphone, you can download the software and purchase an appropriate headphone and microphone set to entirely use the phone through your computer, or you can purchase the hardware and service through one of the companies that are using SIPphone technology. For example, SingTel is one of the largest telephone companies in Asia, and uses rebranded SIPphone technologies under the hood.

New Avenue Systems offers a number of ways to use its products, but of particular interest to many will be that their VOIP client integrates seamlessly with the Thunderbird email client. Once you install the New Avenue module, you can use your existing Thunderbird address book to make a VOIP call with just a few clicks and no extra software getting in your way. You can also use Thunderbird to check your voice mail, again reducing the number of programs you need to have running. It doesn't matter whether you're using Thunderbird on Linux, Windows, or the Mac, the process is exactly the same. This client/server software stores your information through Web services, allowing you to also access your VOIP setup through either Web browsers or Java clients. The client should be ready by mid-2005, and will be open source and free. The server will be sold, and is where New Avenue intends to make its money.

On the other hand, Switchvox is a phone system for small to medium-sized businesses. It's software-based, runs on Linux, offers voice mail and the much dreaded IVR (Interactive Voice Response, "Press 1 for service in English..."), call views, the ability to have your voicemail sent to your email inbox, call logs, call forwarding, diagnostics, and can be used for Voice over IP as well as a regular phone PBX.

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